Would Los Angeles County bring back the mask mandate if cases continue to rise?

After weeks of rising case numbers, Los Angeles County has moved from a “low” to “medium” COVID-19 risk level according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s community rating system. of Diseases.

Los Angeles County had just entered the “low” risk category in March, prompting a relaxation of indoor mask-wearing rules throughout the county.

On Thursday, Los Angeles County became the only Southern California county to move to the CDC’s “medium” risk level.

Los Angeles County Health Director Barbara Ferrer said the move is “worrying” because it could mean that rising infection could soon put a strain on our health care resources.

With the change to “medium”, no new COVID-19 restrictions were announced for the general public.

However, with infections on the rise and hospitalization numbers now beginning to rise as well, what if Los Angeles County finds itself in the “high” risk category again?

“Once we are designated at a high community level, we will go back to requiring everyone to wear those masks indoors,” Ferrer said.

So what does it mean for residents now?

“To avoid moving to the ‘high’ community level, which means very high transmission and stress on the health care system, residents, workers, and businesses should not avoid reestablishing or adhering to safety practices known to reduce transmission. Ferrer said.

Ferrer asked residents to get vaccinated and boosted, to get tested before traveling and gathering indoors, to stay home when sick and to consider wearing masks in closed public places, including schools, restaurants and movie theaters.

Currently in Los Angeles County, masks are required, regardless of vaccination status, for everyone on public transportation, in emergency shelters, health care settings, correctional detention centers, homeless shelters, and nursing homes. long term.

Masks are still highly recommended, but not required, for everyone over the age of 2 in indoor settings.

“We are not at the ‘high’. We are not suggesting that people avoid gatherings, but we are suggesting that people gather very safely,” Ferrer said.

Ferrer said the county is likely to expand mask requirements for public transportation soon.

“It would be really reckless at this point not to extend those protections,” Ferrer said.

“We have to do everything we can to stay out of the ‘drogue,’ I’m just going to be honest,” Ferrer said. “No one here wants to see us move into any categorization that could cause stress on our health care system.”

The CDC classification system is intended to help local jurisdictions decide what preventive measures to take based on three levels of risk, which are determined by looking at hospital beds being used, hospital admissions, and total number of new cases of COVID-19 in an area. .

Under the classification system, counties with a weekly case rate of more than 200 new cases per 100,000 people in the last seven days are automatically considered at a medium or high community risk level.

Los Angeles County’s weekly case rate hit 202 new cases per 100,000 residents this week, prompting the shift to the “medium” category.

The county would move to the “high” category if it had 10 or more new COVID-19 hospital admissions weekly per 100,000 residents or if at least 10% of staffed hospital beds were occupied by COVID-19 patients in a week, according to the CDC.

The county isn’t alone in experiencing a “worrying” increase in transmission, Ferrer said.

Many counties have moved into medium and high community transmission levels, especially on the East Coast.

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