LA County Enters High COVID-19 Community Level and Urges Residents to Take Precautions to Limit Spread of the Highly Transmissible BA.5 Variant

8,954 New Positive Cases and 16 New Deaths Due to COVID-19 in Los Angeles County

Yesterday, Los Angeles County entered the High Covid Community Level on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) COVID-19 Community Levels framework after hospital admissions exceeded 10 new hospital admissions per 100,000 people. The county’s admission rate, at 10.5 hospital admissions per 100,000 people, is an 88% increase when compared to one month ago.

If LA County remains in the High COVID-19 Community Level for two consecutive weeks, universal indoor masking will be implemented on July 29 to help slow the rate of transmission and protect those most vulnerable.

It is important to note that indoor masking is already a required safety measure in many places, including at all healthcare settings, public transit and transit hubs, long-term care settings, shelters and cooling centers, and correctional facilities. Indoor masking also continues to be required at worksites with outbreaks, and is required for all individuals during the 10 days after a COVID diagnosis or exposure when they are around others.

Businesses and employers are allowed to require masks at work, and many have done just that, either by maintaining an indoor masking requirement throughout the pandemic or reinstating one as cases began increasing.

If the county implements universal indoor masking, residents and workers need to wear masks in all indoor public spaces, including shared office spaces, manufacturing facilities, retail stores, and at indoor events.  Indoor areas of restaurants and bars, children’s programs, and educational settings, would need to institute universal masking as well.

Masking and testing are both powerful tools that can interrupt transmission thereby reducing risk. Masking lowers risk in two ways: It provides what some call “source control” meaning controlling the amount of virus entering the environment right at the source. When people who are infected wear a mask, they exhale far less virus into the air than infected people who do not mask.  Masks also provide protection to the individual wearing a mask, by filtering virus from the air they are breathing. When everyone in a room is masked, safety is enhanced, as there is less virus circulating, and less likelihood that any virus circulating will penetrate the physical barrier of a well-fitting, high filtration mask.

Masks that offer beneficial protection provide both good filtration AND a good fit or seal around the edges. Well-fitting respirator-type masks such as N95s, KN95s, and KN94s offer the most protection because they are made with thicker materials that do the best job filtering out the virus. Note that individuals should not double mask with a respirator.

Testing to know your status is strongly recommended if exposed, if symptomatic, and right before gathering with others, especially if indoors and when gathering with anyone at higher risk of severe illness should they get infected. If attendees at a gathering have all tested negative prior to getting together, it is much less likely that anyone will be exhaling virus particles into the air. As a reminder, individuals can be contagious for COVID and not have symptoms – that can happen very early in their infection, before symptoms start, or it can happen if an individual has an asymptomatic case of COVID.

“I send my deepest sympathies and wishes of peace and comfort to the many families who have lost a loved one from COVID-19,” said Barbara Ferrer, PhD, MPH, MEd, Director of Public Health. “I recognize that when we return to universal indoor masking to help reduce high spread, for many this will feel like a step backwards. For others, indoor masking will feel unnecessary because of the availability of powerful vaccines and therapeutics.  The reality is that because we are living with a mutating SARS-CoV-2 virus, there remains uncertainty around the trajectory of the pandemic.  The best way to manage the uncertainty and to reduce morbidity and mortality is to remain open to using both the sophisticated tools we now have, such as tests, vaccines, and therapeutics, and the non-pharmaceutical strategies, such as masking, ventilation, and distancing to layer on protections to respond to the conditions at hand.  One thing I feel certain about is that, given the rich toolkit at hand, we should not settle for the existing high rates of morbidity and mortality that disproportionately affect those most vulnerable; we do need to continue to take care of each other. With the high rates of transmission fueling the increased risks, sensible safety precautions that can slow down the spread of the virus are warranted and that includes universal indoor masking.”

Today, Public Health reported 16 additional deaths and 8,954 new positive cases. Of the 16 new deaths reported today, one person was between the ages of 50-64, four people were between the ages of 65-79, and 11 people were aged 80 years or older. Of the 16 newly reported deaths, all had underlying health conditions. To date, the total number of deaths in L.A. County is 32,508.

Public Health has reported a total of 3,207,071 positive cases of COVID-19 across all areas of L.A. County. Today’s positivity rate is 17.0%.

There are 1,223 people with COVID-19 currently hospitalized. Testing results are available for more than 12,255,903 individuals, with 23% of people testing positive.

A wide range of data and dashboards on COVID-19 from the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health are available on the Public Health website at http://www.publichealth.lacounty.gov including:

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