LA County could reach CDC's 'high' COVID level in July, prompting return of indoor mask mandate

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Friday, July 1, 2022
LA County could hit 'high' COVID level in July, prompt return of masks
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L.A. County could hit the "high" category by July 19. If the county stays in the "high" category for two consecutive weeks, it will reimpose a mandatory indoor mask-wearing mandate.

LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- Los Angeles County health officials are warning the region is again trending in the wrong direction when it comes to COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations.

If the county reaches 10 new daily hospital admissions per 100,000 residents, it will move into the "high" virus activity category as defined by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. If the county stays in the "high" category for two consecutive weeks, it will reimpose a mandatory indoor mask-wearing mandate.

The average daily rate of new COVID admissions to hospitals in the county as of Thursday was 8.1 per 100,000, L.A. County Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer said.

At the current rate of increase, the county will hit the "high" category by July 19, Ferrer said. That projection has changed repeatedly in the past few weeks as the admission rate has fluctuated, and Ferrer said it could shift again.

She noted, however, that given the continued high level of virus transmission in the county -- particularly with more rapid spread of the highly transmissible BA.4 and BA.5 variants -- people should already be masking up indoors.

The county lists wearing masks indoors as a strong recommendation.

The TV and film industry has a lower threshold of what it considers acceptable compared to the CDC, so they will put masks back on indoors.

As of Thursday, there were 808 COVID-positive patients in county hospitals, up from 779 on Wednesday, according to state figures. Of those patients 74 were being treated in intensive care, down from 77 a day earlier.

The county reported 5,763 new COVID cases on Thursday, raising the cumulative total from throughout the pandemic to 3,118,053. Nine more deaths were also reported, lifting the virus-related death toll to 32,334.

The average daily rate of people testing positive for the virus rose to 13.8%.

For some people already infected with COVD, the anti-viral medication Paxlovid has added another layer of protection. Its manufacturer, Pfizer, on Thursday asked the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for full approval.

That would open the door for the company to sell the drug commercially. Right now, the government controls how it's distributed.

"The way this goes is you have to talk to a provider and have that assessment in order to get the prescription," Ferrer explained. "It's not an over-the-counter medication."