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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. 

Masked customers at Los Angeles' Grand Central Market in July 2022.
Masked customers at Los Angeles’ Grand Central Market in July 2022.
Xinhua News Agency via Getty Ima

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.

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

“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. 

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

LA County Director of Public Health Barbara Ferrer announced a possible indoor mask mandate if the surge continues.
LA County Director of Public Health Barbara Ferrer announced a possible indoor-mask mandate if the surge continues.
Los Angeles Times via Getty Imag

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

Another person tweeted, “The only city that is chomping at the bit to bring masks back is Los Angeles.

“They’ll have rolling mandates forever,” the writer said, adding that “it’s been very normal” in their hometown of Louisville, KY.

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

“Vaccines. Masks. Treatments like Paxlovid. The greatest crime is telling people that Covid is ‘just a cold.’”

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

“Why wait to implement a simple measure that could temper the surge, reduce deaths, long Covid, hospitalizations, & even more mutations?” the person argued.

Masks soon might be required everywhere in the county, not just healthcare facilities.
Masks soon might be required everywhere in the county, not just healthcare facilities.
Los Angeles Times via Getty Imag

At the end of the day Thursday, the department reported 4,493 new COVID cases and 14 additional deaths, with current hospitalizations hovering at 1,164.

Department officials previously stated that about 40% of hospital admissions were brought in for COVID-related symptoms, while the rest tested positive after arriving for separate issues.

Concerns about the LA County COVID surge are compounded by an uptick in flu and RSV cases.
Concerns about the LA County COVID surge are compounded by an uptick in flu and RSV cases.
MediaNews Group via Getty Images

Although masks are currently optional throughout the county, they are still required in healthcare facilities and congregate care locations like nursing homes, per the department’s website.

Concerns about the LA County COVID surge are compounded by an uptick in flu and RSV cases in the winter months. Earlier this month, The Post reported on staggering pediatric RSV numbers in New York City hospitals.

“We’re caring for more kids than we have beds for,” Dr. James Schneider, head of the pediatric intensive care unit at Long Island Jewish Hospital, said at the time. 

As COVID infections continue to climb, Los Angeles authorities are urging residents to follow through with vaccination. While a vaccinated person can still catch and transmit COVID, vaccines offer protection from the most severe symptoms. 



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