Los Angeles County Public Health has highly recommended that masks be worn at indoor public places, as COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations have climbed going into the holidays.

In addition to the increase in COVID-19 cases, L.A. Public Health acknowledged that the winter months are bringing an increase in other respiratory infections, such as respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) and the flu.

“Los Angeles County is reporting rising cases of COVID-19, increased circulation of new Omicron strains, and high transmission of other respiratory illnesses including the flu and respiratory syncytial virus, or RSV,” Public Health wrote in a press release. “Indoor masking in all indoor public spaces is now highly recommended, in accordance with the LA County COVID Response Plan.”

The mask recommendation is not a mandate, as was the case the last couple of years, but Public Health is asking for Angelenos to wear them at indoor spaces such as schools, retail establishments, entertainment venues, public transit, correctional and detention facilities and at homeless shelters.

L.A. Public Health has expressed worry, as the COVID-19 case rate has surpassed 100 positive cases per 100,000 residents, a stat that does not account for an undercount due to at-home tests not being reported.

As the holiday season continues, public health officials also recommend masking while traveling and testing for COVID-19 before family gatherings.

Through Thanksgiving weekend, 5,414 new COVID-19 cases were reported, with newer subvariants of Omicron, BQ.1 and BQ.1.1, showing up more frequently in sequenced specimens.

“Throughout the pandemic there has been mounting evidence that wearing a mask is an effective way to limit the spread of respiratory viruses,” Public Health said. “With the current case rate of 100 cases per 100,000 individuals, at a 200 person event, the probability that at least one person at the event is infected with COVID-19 is 45-60%. If the case rate continues to increase and reaches 150 cases per 100,000 individuals, this probability jumps to 60-75%.”

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