With COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations increasing in Los Angeles County, it is possible for mask mandates to return, as soon as this month.

L.A. County Public Health Director, Dr. Barbara Ferrer said that at the current pace, the county is weeks away from reaching what it considers a “high” level of COVID-19 community transmission.

Upon reaching that “high” level, to avoid putting “stress” on the healthcare system, the county is likely to follow CDC directions to require masking in public indoor areas.

“L.A. County is poised, fully, to align with the CDC recommendation that if a county finds itself… at that high community level they go ahead and require folks to wear those masks when they’re indoors,” Ferrer said during a virtual briefing on Thursday.

Ferrer addressed the decision by Alameda County, who have reached the high threshold of COVID-19 transmission, to reinstate an indoor mask mandate, saying she “applauds” for being “proactive” in its COVID-19 protocols.

“I applaud Alameda County for moving forward, looking at their data and taking this step,” Ferrer said. “They do have both higher case rates and higher hospitalization numbers than we have in L.A. County.”

The 7-day average of COVID-19 hospitalizations has surpassed 300 for the first time since February, reaching 522 as of June 3. At this same time in 2021, the 7-day average of COVID-19 hospitalizations was 14.

The distinction between being hospitalized for COVID-19 and incidentally testing positive while at the hospital has been a point of contention among COVID-19 skeptics.

When being asked about the difference, Ferrer explained that while about 60% of patients incidentally test positive for the COVID-19 at hospitals, they are still treated for the disease, which causes additional stress on the healthcare system.

“That means that 40% of the people in the hospital are there because they are really sick with COVID illness and needed care,” Ferrer said. “The other 60% are there getting care for something else, but because they are COVID positive, they do create stress on the hospital system.  Everybody who’s there with that positive COVID-19 diagnosis is getting additional services because of that diagnosis that are resource intense.”

(Featured photo by Markus Winkler/Unsplash)

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