As COVID-19 cases continue to see a noted rise in Los Angeles County, public health officials have issued a warning of the potential return of the indoor masking mandate.
On Thursday, the county reported 5,047 new cases, 10 deaths and 524 hospitalized COVID-19 patients. The positivity rate, 5.3%, was more than double what was reported on May 3.
Los Angeles County still remains in the “medium” level classification by the Centers for Disease Control, but based on the current rising trend, officials believe that threshold may be passed in just weeks, moving into the “high” community level.
In a press conference Thursday, Los Angeles County Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer said, “If we continue on the current trajectory, we’re likely to move into the CDC high community level within a few weeks towards the end of June, indicating an increased stress on the healthcare system.”
Moving into the high community level would mean that hospital admissions related to coronavirus rose to more than 10 per 100,000 county residents, or that the percentage of hospital beds occupied by COVID-positive patients jumped over 10%.
Currently, the county’s rate of hospital admissions is 5.2, while the COVID-19 patient occupied beds sits at 2.7%.
“While these hospital metrics remain well below the threshold for ‘high’ in the CDC’s community-level framework, both our weekly case rate and the rate of increase in hospital admissions are of concern,” she continued.
In Northern California, Alameda County residents saw their own indoor mask mandate reinstated on Friday, as they face another surge of cases in recent weeks.
Ferrer applauded their move, referencing data to suggest that masking indoors creates a notable reduction in the spread of coronavirus.
One of those studies referenced indicated that the odds of testing positive were 56% lower for those who reported always wearing a mask indoors — 83% if the masks were high-grade — versus those who don’t.
Still, as it stands, L.A. County residents are only required to mask up in public transit hubs, healthcare facilities, correctional facilities and shelters.