LA County set to reinstate indoor-mask mandate as COVID surges


Here we go again.

Los Angeles County is set to reinstate indoor-mask mandates as local COVID-19 infections and related hospital admissions continue to surge.

“There is this common line of thinking that the pandemic is over and COVID is no longer of concern, but these numbers clearly demonstrate that COVID is still with us,” County Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer said at a press conference Thursday.

The county now averages more than 2,700 new COVID infections per day, up 180% since Nov. 1. Virus-related hospital admissions are now at 192 per day, a 200% increase from the same date, she said.

Los Angeles County’s weekly rate of new cases also rose to 185 per 100,000 residents, which boosted the county from “low” virus activity to “medium,” as per CDC guidelines.

The “medium” risk level still only makes masking “strongly recommended.”

But Ferrer warned that the county is on track to move to the “high” viral level by next week, which would prompt an indoor-mask mandate.

To hit the “high” designation, the county’s weekly case rate would have to be at least 200 per 100,000 residents and its hospital admissions reach more than 10 per 100,000 residents. More than than 10% of staffed hospital beds also would have to occupied by COVID patients.

As of Thursday, the hospital admission rate already exceeded the CDC’s threshold, with 11.9 new admissions per 100,000 residents. Still, only 5.6% of inpatient beds in the county were occupied by COVID patients.

“Given both the increases in hospitalizations and the lack of certainty in the winter trajectory for COVID-19, continuing some common-sense mitigation strategies that we know work to limit transmission and illness, including masking and being up to date on vaccines and boosters, remains a very sensible approach,” Ferrer said.

“However, [the current trend] does signal that case rates and hospitalizations are elevated, and we could be in the ‘high’ community level as soon as next week,” she said.... (Read more)

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