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LA County Could Hit 'High' COVID-19 CDC Level Thursday, Starting 2-Week Countdown To Indoor Mask Mandate

A hospital monitor screen displays a patient's vital signs
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Health officials expect Los Angeles County to move into the “high” category in the CDC’s COVID-19 Community Levels tracker by Thursday. If the county hits that level and stays there for two weeks in a row, a new mask mandate would be triggered, requiring people to wear masks indoors in L.A. County again.

The number of COVID-19-positive patients in local hospitals is 1,170 as of the state’s latest update — and continuing to trend upward. That’s double what it was a month ago. The county’s also seeing an increase in COVID-related deaths for the first time since the winter surge.

“While we’re not seeing anywhere near the devastation this summer that we saw during last winter’s omicron surge, we are seeing much higher case numbers than we saw during the peak of the delta surge,” Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer said. “It’s unlikely that we are at the peak of our recent surge.”

Ferrer said that universal masking may feel like a step backwards to many, but emphasized that it will help reduce the spread of COVID-19 and its greatly more contagious variants.

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Indoor face coverings have continued to be strongly recommended by the county, despite not currently being required. “The spread of COVID-19 continues to be a significant risk for many in Los Angeles County,” the Health Department notes on its website.

Ferrer said she’s concerned about the spread of highly contagious Omicron subvariants — especially one known as BA.5. The highly contagious variant seems to evade some vaccine protection as well as natural immunity from a prior Omicron-related infection.

However, she adds that should not dissuade people from getting vaccination shots.

“Unvaccinated people are faring very poorly, far worse than vaccinated people when they get infected. They’re much more likely to end up in the hospital and most tragically, much more likely than fully vaccinated people to pass away,” Ferrer said.

There were 15 new deaths in the latest numbers. COVID-19 spread continues to be high, as new variants prove significantly more transmissible than earlier ones.

The majority of those testing positive were likely admitted for something other than COVID-19, but COVID was detected when they were tested on admission. The state reported 6,530 new positive cases of the disease on Wednesday.

There have been a total of 12,243,000 individuals tested for COVID-19 during the pandemic, with 23% of them testing positive at some point. That doesn't include anyone who has had the disease but didn't test, had false negatives, or took a home test but didn't report their illness to officials.

There's been a total of 3,189,901 COVID-19 cases in L.A. County reported to date and 32,478 deaths here attributed to the disease.

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Updated July 13, 2022 at 5:25 PM PDT
This story was updated with more details about the latest COVID-19 numbers for Los Angeles County.
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