LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- Los Angeles County health officials are hoping residents will cooperate with a new plan following New Year's Eve to avoid a steep spike in COVID-19 cases.
After a jump in cases and hospitalizations following the Thanksgiving break, L.A. County Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer is asking residents to temporarily wear masks indoors when with others.
"Ten days of mask wearing as many return to work, in school, can slow transmission, minimize disruptions to work and learning," she said. "Protect those most vulnerable and help make sure hospitals do not become overwhelmed."
Ten days is the incubation period of the virus.
It's a strategy Ferrer said is also being tried in other large cities such as New York and Boston, but even outdoors, mask wearing at huge celebrations would be a smart move.
"Like at the Rose Bowl parade, go ahead and put that mask on," said Ferrer. "While you're really close to other people, it's not really that big an inconvenience and it really does help."
For now, the 7-day average of new cases has dropped 13% since last week. Reported deaths have dropped to an average of 15 per day compared to 21 per day last week, but after a month-long decline, hospitalizations are starting to rise.
"Admissions as you can see are no longer going down. This past week there was an average of 192 admissions per day," Ferrer said.
A slight increase from the average of 178 daily admissions last week.
"It is very possible that a post-holiday bump in cases could move us back to the high community level in January," Ferrer said.
This New Year's, Ferrer is urging residents to self-test before gathering with others.
"I get questions from people about how to get their test kits, and I'm hopeful that with these precautions we can continue to really protect each other," Ferrer said.
The ask to wear masks at schools and workplaces following the winter break is not a mandate, but a recommendation.
However, Ferrer hopes people will comply given the high transmission levels of both COVID-19 and the flu.