LA County health officials extend mask mandates on public transit

LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- With COVID-19 case numbers steadily rising -- enough to push Los Angeles County into the "medium" virus risk level -- the mask-wearing requirement on public transit and at transportation hubs was officially extended Friday in the county.

The Los Angeles County Public Health Department on Friday reported 10 additional deaths, nearly 3,200 new positive cases and 401 COVID-positive patients in the hospital.

Due to the increasing rise in COVID infections, public health officials are extending the masking requirement on all public transit and indoor hubs. This includes commuter trains, subways, buses, ride-shares, airports, bus terminals and train stations.

The county issued a health order in late April requiring masks on transit vehicles and at hubs such as airport and train stations. The requirement, however, was set to expire in a matter of days. The county Department of Public Health announced Friday the mandate was being extended for either another 30 days or until the county sees a sharp drop in virus transmission, whichever comes first.

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Rising cases of COVID-19 have moved Los Angeles County into the federal government's "medium risk" category.



Masks were previously required nationally on public transit and in transportation facilities, but a federal judge struck down the requirement last month. The county initially followed the ruling and the mandate was dropped locally, but when the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention opted to appeal the ruling, the county issued a new health order reinstating the requirement locally.

And due to a growing number of outbreaks at workplaces, employers are required to provide all employees at indoor worksites with medical-grade masks for voluntary use.

On Thursday, L.A. County moved into the CDC's "medium" community risk-level. That means the region is seeing some impact on the health care system. Herminio Morales, Jr. of South Los Angeles doesn't have COVID but needs care for diabetes and chronic pancreatitis.

"They say because of COVID cases we are overwhelmed," he said.

Morales said he's having a hard time getting in to see his doctor at LAC + USC Medical Center and says he's not alone.

"Not sure if they are understaffed or what the case might be. But I'm sure there can be another solution for a problem that hundreds of thousands of people have," Morales said.

More than 45% of the U.S. population is now living in a county that has a "high" or "medium" risk level. This means if an individual is considered at "increased risk," they should speak to their health care provider about whether they should mask.

On Friday, six L.A. County vaccine sites started offering COVID-19 booster shots to children ages 5 to 11 years old. If it's been five months since your child finished their two-shot series, pediatricians say to make an appointment.

"For kids 5 to 11, I don't think you should wait," said Dr. David Cornfield of Lucile Packard Children's Hospital at Stanford.

But Cornfield said if your child got COVID recently, wait 90 days before getting vaccinated or boosted.

The Pfizer booster shots are now available for children 5 to 11 at county vaccination sites. Walk-ins are available at six locations, including the Balboa Complex in Encino. All sites are open Wednesday to Sunday.

For more information on where to get vaccinated in L.A. County, visit the county's website.

City News Service contributed to this report.

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