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As cases continue to fall around the U.S., more local and state governments have moved to roll back mask and vaccine regulations.
On Friday, Los Angeles County residents will no longer be required to wear masks at restaurants, bars gyms, shops and other businesses.
While masks won’t be required, Public Health Director Dr. Barbara Ferrer urged residents to continue to wear them in crowded settings because of the extra layer of protection they provide.
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In Indiana, lawmakers gave final approval Thursday to administrative steps Gov. Eric Holcomb said were necessary to end the nearly two-year-old statewide COVID-19 public health emergency declaration.
Later in the day, the governor signed an executive order ending the current public health emergency, which was due to expire on Saturday.
Also on Thursday, a mask requirement for state lawmakers in Maine was lifted by legislative leaders and a task force of officials from Ford, General Motors, Stellantis and the United Auto Workers union decided to drop a mask requirement.
Face masks will be optional for U.S. union auto workers, as long as their factories are in counties that are not at high risk for the novel coronavirus.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) updated its COVID-19 community levels map on Thursday, placing some 93% of the U.S. population in areas where virus risk levels are low enough that masks are not necessary indoors.
Previously, the agency’s map put more than 70% of the population in counties where the coronavirus is posing a low or medium threat to hospitals.
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Whereas, about 37% of U.S. counties were shown with a high COVID-19 risk and still advised to wear face masks.
The CDC reported Thursday that 85.4% of counties now rank as low or medium risk. County updates to this map will come weekly.
All of this comes a week after the CDC loosened its masking guidance, allowing Americans to take a break from wearing masks in certain areas.
The new set of measures shifted from a focus on positive test rules and more on hospitals.
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The new recommendations do not change the requirement to wear masks on public transportation and in transportation hubs. The current transit mask order expires on March 18, but may be extended.
In addition, those with COVID-19 symptoms or who test positive should not stop wearing masks.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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