The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health is expected to instate an indoor mask mandate as early as next week, in response to rising COVID-19 case counts and hospitalizations in the area.
The Los Angeles Times reported Thursday that the heightened response is due to a surge in cases the immune-evasive Omicron subvariant BA.5. A mandate decision could come in the next few days, the report said.
LA County lifted outdoor mask rules in February and got rid of the indoor mandate in March. Reinstating the indoor mandate in the nation’s most populous county would impact 10 million residents.
Under a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) metric measuring COVID-19 in a community, LA County is currently flagged as “high” risk, and the CDC recommends indoor masking in public to match these elevated case levels. Much of California is under this designation, according to the latest CDC county maps.
County officials have said they’d reinstate the indoor mask rules if the county stays under “high” levels for two weeks, according to the Los Angeles Times.
The county saw 4,327 new cases Tuesday, another 6,450 Wednesday, and a jump to 8,691 new cases Thursday, according to daily reports from the health department.
About 1,300 COVID-19 hospitalizations have been logged each day in the last week, and 18 people died on Thursday alone.
To date during the pandemic, the county has recorded 32,584 COVID-19 deaths.
The county is also weathering the global outbreak of Monkeypox. The first case was recorded in LA in early June, and California has counted 434 cases as of Thursday.
A coalition of LGBT groups Wednesday warned the Biden administration that California could become a monkeypox epicenter.
The Hill has reached out to LA’s Department of Public Health for comment.