LA County edges closer to new indoor mask mandate as infectious new Covid variant sends hospitalisations up

·2 min read

Los Angeles County is edging back towards an indoor mask mandate after it moved back into the “high” Covid-19 transmission category.

Health officials say that the county, which has a population of more than 10 million residents, could see the return of the indoor mandate by 29 July if it remains in the category for two consecutive weeks.

The latest Covid surge in the United States is being driven by the highly transmissible BA.5 variant, which now accounts for 65 per cent of cases nationwide.

LA County Public Health director Dr Barbara Ferrer said on Thursday that the daily death figures were rising, averaging 14 per day over the last week.

And data showed that there were 1,202 patients with Covid-19 in county hospitals, up from 1,170 the day before, with 122 patients in intensive care.

The county said that there were 8,535 new Covid-19 infections on Thursday, a figure that officials say is much lower than the actual number as many people now do at-home tests without reporting a positive test.

The “high” category is when the seven-day average of new Covid-related hospital admissions hit 10 per 100,000 residents.

Masks are already required in some indoor areas in Los Angeles County, including transport hubs (AP)
Masks are already required in some indoor areas in Los Angeles County, including transport hubs (AP)

During the pandemic, there have been 32,478 Covid deaths in the county.

Masks are already required in some indoor areas in Los Angeles County, including healthcare facilities, transport hubs, airports, correctional facilities, and shelters.

A new indoor mask mandate would see them required in all indoor public locations, including shared office space, retail stores, indoor restaurants, bars, and schools. Masks would not be needed in outdoor locations.

The mask mandate would be removed when the transmission level drops back to “medium.”

There have been more than 89m Covid cases in the US during the pandemic and 1.02m deaths.