Eyewitness Newsmakers: LA County public health director discusses uptick in COVID cases

ByMarc Brown and Kristie R. Bihn KABC logo
Sunday, September 17, 2023
Eyewitness Newsmakers: Will masks return amid uptick in COVID cases?
With COVID cases again on the rise in L.A. County, the public health director told us wat she's seeing and if masking could again be required.

COVID cases are again on the rise - more people are getting sick and hospitalizations are increasing in Los Angeles County.

During the latest edition of Eyewitness Newsmakers, Dr. Barbara Ferrer, director of the county's Department of Public Health, said the numbers of community transmission are ticking up and there is a bump up in deaths, but numbers remain relatively low. That's why she would not call the jump in cases a "surge."

However, Dr. Ferrer advised this is a time to be more careful.

When it comes to masking, Dr. Ferrer recommended you wear a face covering while traveling, if you're at higher risk, if you're inside a building with poor ventilation or if there's a COVID outbreak at work. She went on to reassure that, at this moment, masking is still an individual preference and not a mandate.

The next COVID vaccine is out and available to anyone over the age of six months. It's said to be highly effective at preventing people from becoming seriously ill, being hospitalized or dying.

Why you may want to think twice before throwing out those old at-home COVID tests

New York State is sending schools COVID tests and masks, and districts in Kentucky and Texas have suspended in-person classes after a surge in cases.

Dr. Ferrer believes the vaccine will likely be an annual shot people receive every year to update their protection. As for those who are wary of the COVID vaccine, Dr. Ferrer suggests people talk with a trusted medical provider about their concerns.

It's not just COVID. RSV and the flu could also prove difficult for people of all ages this season.

Dr. Jamie Rutland, an Orange County pulmonologist, expects to see a so-called "tripledemic" season similar to last year, with a significant number of viral respiratory infections.

With temperatures falling and people spending more time inside, Dr. Rutland says he's already starting to see an uptick in COVID and flu cases, and expects to start seeing RSV cases soon. Because all three respiratory viruses have vastly different treatments, Dr. Rutland recommends you accurately describe your symptoms to your doctor so your medical provider knows which route to take for proper medical care.

As for vaccines, Dr. Rutland recommends immunizations for COVID, the flu and RSV if you're eligible. However, he personally recommends spacing each vaccine out by two weeks to allow your immune system time to generate antibodies for each one.

Watch the the full episode of Eyewitness Newsmakers in the media player at the top of this page.