Los Angeles COVID cases surge, but county holds off on mask mandate

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Los Angeles County re-entered the federal government’s “high” COVID-19 community activity category. 

On its website, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advised that residents stay up to date with vaccines, get tested if experiencing symptoms and don face masks indoors in public spaces. 

On Thursday, the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health reported 3,450 new positive cases and 17 new deaths – although the number of cases is believed to be higher due to people not reporting results or testing at all.

In a briefing, Dr. Barbara Ferrer, the department’s director, said that the day’s case rate was 258 per 100,000 people and increasing by 6% each day.

LOS ANGELES COUNTY MAY REIMPOSE INDOOR MASK MANDATE IF COVID TRANSMISSIONS CLIMB

A signboard reminds people of the face covering requirement as pedestrians wear facemasks due to the coronavirus in Los Angeles, California on November 12, 2020. – European and world leaders on November 12, 2020 insisted that when Covid-19 vaccines are launched they should be made a available to everyone, under an international project which still needs $28 billion of funding. (Photo by Frederic J. BROWN / AFP) 
((Photo by FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP via Getty Images))

“And because this is having an impact on our healthcare system and our vulnerable residents, it’s time layer in sensible protections,” she urged during a PowerPoint presentation, asking that all residents ages 2 and older wear a mask indoors.

She noted that millions of county residents are at elevated risk, especially given that three respiratory viruses are circulating: influenza, respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) and COVID-19. 

“When you put on your mask for these few weeks during this surge, it’s about the people of L.A. County,” Ferrer added. 

Eagle Rock, CA - August 30: Dr. Barbara Ferrer, center, director of the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health, on Monday, Aug. 30, 2021, in Eagle Rock, CA. 

Eagle Rock, CA – August 30: Dr. Barbara Ferrer, center, director of the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health, on Monday, Aug. 30, 2021, in Eagle Rock, CA. 
( (Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images))

However, whether a mandate would return is unknown. 

“We’re actually not sure that we’ll get there,” Ferrer said in response to a reporter’s question. 

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She clarified that the department needs the measure of the percentage of COVID-19 patients to increase to 10% before issuing such an order. 

In addition, that would only come after two consecutive weeks of remaining at that high level. 

Palm trees stand behind a street art piece by artist Pony Wave depicting two people kissing while wearing face masks on Venice Beach on March 21, 2020, in Venice, California.

Palm trees stand behind a street art piece by artist Pony Wave depicting two people kissing while wearing face masks on Venice Beach on March 21, 2020, in Venice, California.
((Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images))

Per Fox 11, the rate of daily hospital admission has topped 10 per 100,000 residents, with the percentage of hospital beds occupied by patients at 6.9%.

Ferrer said while the county has not yet reached that dangerous threshold, there is still too much transmission of COVID-19 and the time to mitigate risk is now.

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Masks are still required at health care and congregate care facilities, for anyone exposed to the virus over the past 10 days and at businesses where they are required by the owner.

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