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LA County Daily COVID Case Count Tops 6,000

A line graph showing reported COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations rising since late April, 2022.
Courtesy of the L.A. County Dept. of Public Health)
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Los Angeles County reported 6,245 new COVID-19 cases Thursday, the first time the county has topped the 6,000 mark since February. The number is certainly an undercount since it does not include positive over-the-counter tests that are generally not reported to the health department.

Despite the steady rise in cases, L.A. County Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer said another public mask mandate isn’t on the table — yet.

“We don't foresee any big changes in the health officer orders unless we move into that high community level as designated by CDC,” Ferrer said at a Thursday press conference.

Ferrer recommended celebrating graduation ceremonies and the upcoming Memorial Day outdoors, and said people should use tools such as masking and testing before parties.

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The latest rise, fueled by BA.2 subvariants, does not rival the omicron surge in January and February, but L.A. County entered a higher coronavirus risk level on May 19. The steadily increasing case numbers have continued, though Ferrer said a public indoor mask mandate will only return if hospitalizations worsen.

“The more cases you have, even if it's just a small fraction of people who get infected and need to be hospitalized, the greater the strain will be on the health care system,” she said.

A data table showing COVID-19 cases and related hospitalizations are rising since May 20, 2022.
(Courtesy of the L.A. County Dept. Of Public Health)

The county is averaging more than 4,200 cases per day for the past week, and the county’s transmission rate remains high. Nine additional COVID-related deaths were reported and, as of Thursday, there are 429 COVID-19 patients in area hospitals.

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Cases are still substantially increasing among elementary school students. The county averages at least a dozen new outbreaks in classrooms each week. Los Angeles Unified, the area’s largest school district, is in session until June 10.

Ferrer applauded UCLA’s announcement to reinstate an indoor mask requirement on campus. UCLA is on a quarter system and the Spring session does not end until June 10.

“None of us want to continue to see a rise in cases,” Ferrer said. “None of us wants to see our healthcare system stressed out. And certainly none of us want to see people with serious illness. So a strong recommendation from us really has always meant that we encouraged businesses and institutions to go ahead and institute those safety protections that made most sense, including masking requirements when indoors.”

In L.A. County, masks are required on public transportation and in transportation hubs such as airports. A separate health order requires masks to be worn in high-risk places including emergency shelters, doctor’s offices and hospitals, homeless shelters and prisons, and long-term care facilities such as nursing homes.

What questions do you have about the pandemic and health care?
Jackie Fortiér helps Southern Californians understand the pandemic by identifying what's working and what's not in our health response.