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California and Los Angeles County are reportedly now following the new directives from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which say that fully vaccinated people can gather outdoors or dine at an outdoor restaurant without masks — including when riding bikes.
The CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said during a White House briefing that for people fully vaccinated against COVID, “things are much safer for you than those who are not fully vaccinated.”
Under the new CDC guidance, people can walk, run, or bike outdoors with members of their own household without a mask, regardless of whether they are vaccinated. But people who are vaccinated can also shed their masks for small outdoor gatherings and for outdoor dining with people from other households.
However, when biking, it’s important to still carry a mask with you in case you go someplace indoors. Because vaccinated or not, masks are still urged for anyone attending an indoor activity or patronizing indoor businesses, as well as for anyone at a crowded outdoor event, such as a concert, parade, or sporting event.
“While more than half of Californians 16 and older are partially or fully vaccinated, many others are still not vaccinated and the threat of variants remains,” Gov. Gavin Newsom reportedly said. “We need to remain vigilant and continue public health prevention measures — like wearing masks when appropriate and getting vaccinated — but the light at the end of this tunnel has never been brighter.”
Newsom previously said the state would reopen its economy by June 15, so long as there are enough COVID-19 vaccine shots for everyone who wants them and hospitalizations remain stable.
As of Apr. 27, Los Angeles had administered over 7.2 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines. Being the state’s most populous county, Los Angeles has qualified to move into the least restrictive yellow tier.
And while the pandemic resulted in a bike boom, meaning more people hit the streets on the bicycles, it didn’t curtail drivers killing bicyclists. In fact, according to a new report, they’re also leaving them to die after the collision. Outside Magazine recently analyzed media reports of fatal cycling crashes and found that more than a quarter (26.3%) of drivers who killed a cyclist last year commited a hit-and-run, fleeing the scene of the crime. As part of its 2020 Cycling Deaths project, journalists looked at 697 fatal cycling crashes for this. The magazine noted that though official federal statistics about hit-and-run rates won’t be released for approximately two years, the data they analyzed with the assistance of information scientists at BikeMaps.org is likely a strong representative sample of a death toll whose “total is likely significantly higher.”
Tiffanie Stanfield, founder of the non-profit Fighting Hit and Run Driving, told Streetsblog USA she wasn’t surprised by the data: “The pandemic provided drivers with a license to speed, and heightened the population of cyclists and pedestrians on the road. That balance is still off — but we haven’t done things like increase the enforcement to address the change.”
At the start of the coronavirus pandemic a year ago, speeding in California immediately increased. With traffic volume down about 35% from the same period in Mar. 2019, the California Highway Patrol saw an alarming 87% increase in citations for speeding in excess of 100 mph. During the month after the start of the stay-at-home-order in Mar., the CHP issued 2,493 tickets throughout California for speeding over 100 mph — almost doubling the amount of the same offense seen during the same period last year. “With no traffic, people are pushing the envelope a little more. The crashes are a little more dynamic, fewer fender-benders… Almost every one has an ambulance responding,” a California Highway Patrol Officer told the LA Times at the time.