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

Here we go again.

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

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

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

Los Angeles County’s weekly rate of new cases rose to 185 per 100,000 residents, raising the county from “low” to “moderate” virus activity, according to CDC guidelines.

Shoppers wear masks at Grand Central Market in Los Angeles in July 2022.
Shoppers wear masks at Grand Central Market in Los Angeles in July 2022.
Xinhua News Agency via Getty Ima

A “moderate” risk level still “strongly recommends” concealment.

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

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

As of Thursday, the hospitalization rate had already exceeded the CDC’s limit, with 11.9 new admissions per 100,000 residents. Yet, only 5.6% of inpatient beds in the county are occupied by COVID patients.

Los Angeles County reported 4,000 new Covid cases on Thursday.
Los Angeles County reported 4,000 new Covid cases on Thursday.
Getty Images

“Given both the increase in hospitalizations and the lack of certainty in the winter trajectory for COVID-19, we continue to use some of the common-sense mitigation strategies we know to limit spread and illness, including concealment and staying up-to-date on vaccines and boosters. That remains a very sensible approach,” Ferrer said.

“However, [the current trend] This indicates that case rates and hospitalizations have increased and we may be at the ‘high’ community level next week,” he said.

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Ferrer’s announcement quickly generated a backlash on social media.

LA County Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer announced a possible indoor mask mandate if the outbreak continues.
LA County Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer announced an indoor-mask order if the outbreak continues.
Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

“They push false data and fear mongering through their daily news,” a Twitter user lamented.

Another person tweeted, “Los Angeles is the only city in the BIT to bring back masks.

“They have rolling orders forever,” said the writer, “which is very common” in his hometown of Louisville, KY.

Other commenters were more open to the idea, with one man writing, “How do you prevent long covid?

“Vaccines. Masks. Treatments like paxlovid. Telling people that Covid is ‘just a cold’ is a big crime.

Another Twitter user went so far as to say that the order should already be in place.

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“Why wait to implement a simple measure that could reduce the outbreak, reduce deaths, longer Covid, hospitalizations and more mutations?” The man argued.

Masks may soon be required everywhere in the county, not just health facilities.
Masks may soon be required everywhere in the county, not just health facilities.
Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

At the end of the day on Thursday, the department reported 4,493 new Covid cases And 14 additional deaths, hospitals currently hover at 1,164.

Department officials had earlier said that around 40% of hospital admissions were brought for Covid-related symptoms, while the rest tested positive after coming in for separate problems.

LA County's Covid outbreak is accompanied by an increase in flu and RSV cases.
LA County’s Covid outbreak is accompanied by an increase in flu and RSV cases.
Media News Group via Getty Images

While masks are currently optional countywide, they are still required in care settings such as health facilities and nursing homes, according to the department’s website.

Concerns about LA County’s Covid outbreak are compounded by an increase in flu and RSV cases during the winter months. Earlier this month, the Post reported on staggering RSV numbers in children in New York City hospitals.

“We are caring for more children than we have beds for,” said Dr. James Schneider said at the time.

As COVID infections rise, Los Angeles officials are urging residents to follow through on vaccinations. While a vaccinated person can still catch and transmit COVID, vaccines protect against the most severe symptoms.



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