Mask Mandates To Return In Los Angeles If COVID Cases Increase

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Indoor mask mandates may return to Los Angeles County if recorded metrics return to a high level, in accordance with the CDC’s guidance.

Los Angeles County Public Health Director, Dr. Barabara Ferrer said the county moved into the CDC’s “medium” COVID-19 transmission designation, and is on a pace to reach the “high” designation by next week.

Should the county reach the “high” level, with 200 positive cases per 100,000 residents, plus an increase in patients being treated for COVID-19, Ferrer said, “L.A. County will follow the CDC’s guidance for ‘high’ community level, including universal indoor masking.”

Dr. Ferrer added that there has been a belief among Angelenos that COVID-19 has gone away, but the increasing number of hospitalizations show that “common-sense mitigation strategies,” such as masking and getting vaccinated has shown to limit the virus’ transmission in the past.

While the hospitalization rates are lower than they were in 2020, they are starting to increase past the numbers the county experienced in 2021.

Ferrer said that the gap between hospitalizations and recorded positive COVID-19 cases by the county, likely reflects an undercount of actual cases.

“Hospital admissions have increased 200% since November 1,” Ferrer said. “With many residents using over-the-counter antigen tests to determine their COVID status, there are likely many more people who have tested for COVID than our case numbers are capturing.”

Hospitals are beginning to see increased wait times in emergency rooms already this winter, not only from COVID-19 cases, but with the rise in flu and respiratory syncitial virus (RSV) cases.

Kaiser Permanente CEO Greg A. Adams sent out a message to members, acknowledging a “strain” in the healthcare system, due to an increase in patients combined with a staffing shortage.

“At Kaiser Permanente, we’re also experiencing a high demand for care with fewer staff members available to work in our facilities, due to a nationwide shortage of health care workers,” Adams said. “As we enter the winter months — with flu, RSV, and COVID-19 on the rise — we know our country’s entire health care system is likely to become even more strained. Please get your flu shot and COVID-19 vaccination to protect yourself and your family.”

Going into the holidays, L.A. Public Health has urged Angelenos to get vaccinated, as data from previous winter months has shown surges in COVID-19 through January.

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