LA County Reinstates Healthcare Facility Mask Mandate
By Dolores Quintana
According to the latest weekly press release from the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health (LACDPH), in the last week, the daily average of reported COVID-19 cases has surged by over 25%, escalating from 495 to 621. It is essential to note that this figure is an underestimate due to the substantial number of home test results for COVID-19 that go unreported to Public Health. Concurrently, the daily average of COVID-positive hospitalizations has risen by nearly 15%, ascending from 604 to 686.
Most alarmingly, wastewater tests in Los Angeles County indicate high levels of infection from SARS-CoV-2 (Covid-19), Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), and Norovirus. Such testing is invaluable since public testing was abandoned when the city and the county ended the Covid Health Emergency, and home test results are not recorded. The testing result for Covid-19 as of the most recent date, December 26, is 458 copies per gram of water. The only wastewater level on record that was higher was during the Omicron surge from the winter of 2022 when the rate was 554 copies per gram of water on December 4. The aforementioned data is available at https://data.wastewaterscan.org/.
The Hospital Admission Level for the county, as reported by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), has increased from 6.5 to 8.3 new COVID-19 hospitalization admissions per 100,000 people based on data through Dec. 16. Unfortunately, there has been a discernible increase in the daily average deaths attributed to COVID-19. This week, Public Health reports a daily average of 5 deaths, marking an increase from the two reported on Dec. 6.
Because of this rise in infections and deaths from Covid, LACDPH has reinstated the mask mandate at all Los Angeles County healthcare facilities since the County entered the medium level of risk on December 29.
According to LACDPH, to curb the spread of COVID-19 and other respiratory viruses, residents are urged to prioritize common-sense precautions for self-protection and the protection of others. If unwell, it is advisable to stay home, and testing is recommended for individuals displaying symptoms or having been exposed to COVID-19, particularly when interacting with those more susceptible to severe illness due to age or underlying health conditions. Regular handwashing is emphasized, and the use of a well-fitted, high-quality mask is recommended to prevent transmission in crowded indoor spaces such as airports, train stations, or locations with inadequate ventilation.