LOS ANGELES (CNS) — As COVID-19 infection rates have risen sharply since early November, Los Angeles County on Thursday returned to “strongly recommend” that people wear masks in all indoor public places.
The recommendation does not correspond to a masking mandate, but masks are still necessary inside health care and congregate care settings, for anyone exposed to the virus in the last 10 days and in places where they are required by the operator, County Health said officer Dr. Muntu Davis.
For the past few months, indoor masking has been a matter of personal preference, unless individual companies or locations choose to require it.
The county returned to “strongly” indoor mask-wearing on Thursday when the local seven-day average of new daily COVID-19 infections rose to 100 per 100,000 population from 86 per 100,000 a week ago. . The rate the previous week was 65 per 100,000 population.
“It is now strongly recommended that all individuals wear a high-quality mask that fits well in the following environments: in indoor public spaces; when using public transport, including buses, carpools, taxis and medical transport; correctional and detention facilities; and homeless and emergency shelters,” Davis said.
The increase in the case rate reflects the steady increases seen in the number of daily reported cases and hospitalizations since the beginning of November.
Davis said the county is currently reporting about 1,500 new cases per day, up from 1,300 per day a week ago and up 52% since Nov. 1. He noted that the reported cases represent only a portion of the actual infections occurring in the county, since many residents rely on home tests that are not reported to health officials, while many others do not. do not test at all.
Average daily COVID-related hospital admissions are averaging 97 a day, up 26% from 77 a day last week, and a 54% jump since Nov. 1, Davis said.
On Thursday, the number of COVID-positive patients at county hospitals rose to 648, from 589 the previous day. Of these patients, 77 were being treated in intensive care, up from 75 a day earlier.
Health officials previously said about 40% of patients were actually admitted for COVID-related issues, while the rest were admitted for other reasons but tested positive in hospital.
Virus-related deaths reported daily remain relatively low, at around eight a day, but Davis said as case rates and hospitalizations increase, that number could start to climb.
Health officials have warned of a third consecutive winter surge of COVID-19 cases, noting the increased risk of transmission as people spend more time indoors due to colder weather and summer vacations. winter. Davis also noted Thursday the continued threat of new emerging variants that can spread faster from person to person, even those who are vaccinated.
He again urged residents to get vaccinated or receive the latest available booster, designed to combat current Omicron variants. He also emphasized the effects of masks on safety, citing a recent Harvard University study of Massachusetts school districts following the lifting of mask mandates on campuses.
According to Davis, the study found that districts lifting mask mandates had a COVID infection rate of 128 per 1,000 people, while those with masking had a rate of 66 per 1,000.
He urged residents to exercise caution during Thanksgiving and other winter holidays, especially when attending large gatherings.
“We are grateful this year to have the tools that allow us to come together with great safety,” he said. “It will mean, however, that we will all likely have to take common sense precautions to avoid future disruptions and the spread of disease.
He said that includes being up to date on all vaccinations, including COVID and flu shots.
Thursday’s COVID case numbers were not immediately available. The county reported another 2,215 infections on Wednesday, giving the county a cumulative total throughout the pandemic of 3,511,076.
Nine more virus-related deaths were reported Wednesday, giving the county an overall death toll of 34,081.
The seven-day average daily rate of people testing positive for the virus was 7.1% on Wednesday, down from 5.6% a week ago.
The video in the media player above is from a previous report.
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