Los Angeles County has reintroduced a mask-wearing rule for all licensed health care institutions’ workers and visitors, officials said Saturday.
“Over the past week in Los Angeles County, there have been notable, yet not unexpected, increases in COVID-19 reported cases, hospitalizations and deaths,” the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health said in a statement.
“While recent increases are significant, they remain considerably below last winter’s peak and common-sense protections are strongly recommended to help curb transmission and severe illness as the new year begins.”
The CDC’s medium-level is defined as 10 to 19.9 new COVID-related hospital admissions per 100,000 population over seven days. For the week ending December 23, the CDC recorded 10.5 new COVID hospital admissions per 100,000 individuals in Los Angeles County.
“Based on the Los Angeles County Health Officer Order posted on December 27, 2023, when the COVID-19 hospital admission level in Los Angeles County meets or exceeds the CDC’s Medium Level, all healthcare personnel, regardless of COVID-19 and influenza vaccination status, in licensed health care facilities that provide inpatient care are required to mask while in contact with patients or working in patient-care areas,” the department’s statement said.
“In addition, all persons visiting a licensed health care facility that provides inpatient care are required to mask when around patients and while in patient-care areas. This will remain in effect until the COVID-19 hospital admission level in Los Angeles County is below the CDC’s Medium Level for at least 14 consecutive days.”
According to state data, there were 609 COVID-positive patients in LA County hospitals as of December 23. This is an increase from 259 on November 1 but a decrease from nearly 1,200 at this time last year. Some of the individuals were hospitalized for other reasons and were later diagnosed with COVID after being tested at the hospitals.
According to the health department, the recorded daily average of COVID-19 cases in the county has climbed by more than 25% since last week, from 495 to 621. Officials claim the figure is an undercount due to the significant number of unreported COVID-19 home test results.
In addition, the government recorded a daily average of five COVID-related fatalities, up from two earlier this month on December 6.
According to health professionals, the vast majority of persons who die with COVID-19 had pre-existing diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, or hypertension.
The health officials reported a week ago that new COVID-19 strains gaining dominance in Los Angeles County, particularly JN.1, a newly emerging strain descended from BA.2.86, an Omicron lineage, might be driving at least some of the local surge in transmission.
According to authorities, JN.1 does not appear to be causing more severe cases of COVID-19.