Los Angeles County will reinstate the indoor-mask requirement as COVID-19 infection rates continue to rise and hospital admissions are on the rise.
“There is a common belief that the pandemic has ended and COVID no longer concerns us, but these numbers clearly show that COVID remains with us,” Barbara Ferrer County Public Health Director said at a Thursday press conference.
Since Nov. 1, the county has seen an average of more than 2,700 COVID infections per days, an increase of 180%. She said that virus-related hospital admissions now average 192 per day, which is a 200% increase over the previous date.
Los Angeles County’s weekly case rate also climbed to 185/100,000. This boosted the county’s virus activity from “low” to “medium,” according to CDC guidelines.
Masking is still strongly recommended for the “medium” risk level.
Ferrer said that the county was on track to reach the “high viral” level by next week. This would trigger an indoor-mask mandate.
The county’s weekly cases rate must be at least 200 for every 100,000 residents, and hospital admissions should exceed 10 per 100,000 residents to reach the “high” status. Patients with COVID would also need to be occupying more than 10% of the hospital beds.
With 11.9 new admissions per 100 000 residents, Thursday’s hospital admission rate had already exceeded the CDC threshold. However, COVID patients occupied only 5.6% of county’s inpatient beds.
Ferrer stated that despite the increase in hospitalizations and uncertainty in the winter trajectory of COVID-19, it is sensible to continue some common-sense mitigation strategies that work to limit transmission and illness. This includes masking, boosters, and keeping up with vaccines and other boosters.
She stated that “the current trend” does indicate that hospitalizations and case rates are rising and could lead to a rise in community levels within the next week.
Ferrer’s announcement quickly generated social media reactions
Twitter user complained that “they push false data, fearporn through the daily news.”
Another person tweeted: “Los Angeles is the only city that wants to bring back masks.”
The writer stated that they will have rolling mandates for life and added that it was “very normal” in Louisville, KY.
Others were more open to this idea with one commenter writing: “How can you prevent long Covid?”
“Vaccines. Masks. Paxlovid is a treatment. People are told that Covid is “just a cold.” This is the greatest crime.
Another Twitter user stated that the mandate should be in place.
The person said, “Why wait to put in a simple measure that could temper surge, reduce deaths and long Covid, hospitalizations, and even more mutations?”
The department reported at the end of Thursday 4,493 COVID cases and 14 deaths. Current hospitalizations hover around 1,164
Officials at the department previously stated that approximately 40% of hospital admissions were for COVID symptoms. The rest were admitted for other issues.
Masks are not required in all areas of the county at the moment, but they are required in congregate care facilities like nursing homes, according to the department’s website.
The winter flu and RSV cases have added to the concerns about the LA County COVID spike. The Post published shocking statistics on pediatric RSV in New York City hospitals earlier this month.
Dr. James Schneider, the head of Long Island Jewish Hospital’s pediatric intensive care unit, stated that “We are caring for more children than we have beds for.”
Los Angeles officials are encouraging residents to get vaccinated as COVID cases continue to rise. Although a person who has been vaccinated can still transmit COVID to others, vaccinations provide protection against the most severe symptoms.