Is LA County’s Indoor Mask Mandate Coming Back?

Is LA County’s Indoor Mask Mandate Coming Back?

Americans are out and about this summer, with many taking their very first vacations since the beginning of the pandemic. For most places around the country, Los Angeles County included, there are few signs of COVID-19 precautions. Some people continue to wear face coverings indoors, but this isn’t always the case. In fact, LA County continues to experience daily COVID-19 positivity numbers of about 3,700-6,500, depending on the day. 

From June 13, 2022 to June 19, 2022, unvaccinated people were 5.3 times more likely to contract COVID-19 than people who received a booster dose. The new increase in cases and hospitalizations have been fueled by the omicron BA.5 sub-variant, which is very contagious. The BA.5 sub-variant is the fastest-spreading form of omicron so far. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), it is responsible for more than 50% of all new COVID-19 cases in the country. Additionally, researchers say that this sub-variant is three to four times more resistant to antibiotics. 

When Could Indoor Masking Happen?

The decision to reinstate the indoor mask mandate will depend on future daily case rates and hospitalization rates. If the number of case and hospitalization rates remains high enough for two weeks, LA County may require indoor masking by July 29, 2022. Fortunately, LA County is not in that high COVID-19 community ever yet. This category indicates that an area is experiencing high COVID-19 spreading, with the transmission straining hospitals. 

The CDC updates community assessments every Thursday. If LA County enters a high COVID-19 community level on July 14th, for example, it has to remain in that tier until July 28th, 2022, for authorities to issue an indoor masking order. This information comes from Barbara Ferrer, LA County’s Public Health Director. She did say, however, that there is no guarantee that the masking order will take effect. 

How Close Is Los Angeles To The Indoor Mask Policy?

There has to be 10 new weekly coronavirus-positive hospitalizations for every 100,000 residents for health officials to reinstate the indoor masking order. As of July 7, 2022, that number was 9.7, a 17% increase from the previous week’s rate of 8.3. From the county’s perspective, though, the actual figure is about 8.4, because that combined federal data from LA and Orange counties. LA County and Orange County numbers have been relatively similar, but Orange County’s new weekly coronavirus-positive hospitalizations for every 100,000 residents was 13.3 as of July 6th, 2022. 

Why Is LA Considering A Mask Mandate Again?

LA County health officials say that the order would align with guidance from the CDC. According to the CDC, indoor masking should be enforced in counties that have high COVID-19 community level. Roughly 60% of California’s counties remain in that category, including the Central Valley and San Francisco Bay areas. About 16 million Californians currently live in a county with a high COVID-19 community level. That number accounts for about 41% of the state’s population. 

In Southern California, Ventura County remains the only county with a high community level. Despite the high community levels in other counties in California, LA County seems to be the only county that has responded to the CDC framework. It will reinstate an indoor mask mandate if the numbers continue to climb. 

Even though health officials recommend wearing a mask indoors as a preventative measure, some officials don’t think it is necessary at this time. The reason for this logic is because epidemiological changes in the virus have taken place. Plus, treatments and vaccines are readily available. Ultimately, health officials want to do their best to avoid the effects of another pandemic wave in LA County. Wear a mask indoors if you can to help reduce the spread of the new contagious BA.5 sub-variant and the mask mandate may not go into effect.

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