LA County indoor mask rules set to take effect as coronavirus cases continue to rise – .

LA County indoor mask rules set to take effect as coronavirus cases continue to rise – .

The coronavirus jump in Los Angeles County continued on Saturday as new rules requiring masks in indoor public places were to come into effect, a restriction officials hope will slow the spread of the virus among the unvaccinated.
LA is by far the largest jurisdiction in the country to re-require masks. But because COVID-19 cases are increasing across the country due to the highly infectious Delta variant, authorities elsewhere will be monitoring to see if the effort is working.

People who have been vaccinated are protected against the Delta variant. But authorities are asking them to wear masks indoors in order to also force unvaccinated people – who are at risk – to do the same. About 52% of LA County residents are fully vaccinated and about 60% have received at least one injection. But given the region’s huge population, that still leaves millions of people vulnerable.

“With the increased brewing among unmasked people with unknown vaccine status, millions of people still unvaccinated, and the increased circulation of the highly transmissible Delta variant, we are seeing a rapid increase in COVID infection- 19 ″, said Barbara, the county public health director. Ferrer said in a statement.

Dr Robert Kim-Farley, a medical epidemiologist and infectious disease expert at UCLA’s Fielding School of Public Health, said he is not worried that the pandemic is approaching the same level of devastation as there is. six months, but that he was “concerned about the trajectory and rate of doubling of new cases.

“I hope this will be the wake-up call for those who are still reluctant to get vaccinated to roll up their sleeves and get vaccinated,” he said.

Under the LA County ordinance, masks will be required to be worn in all indoor public places, such as theaters, stores, gyms, offices and workplaces, and in restaurants when not. neither eat nor drink. Those exempted include children under 2 years old. Indoor dining is still permitted, but guests are asked to wear masks when not eating or drinking.

Other California counties have urged people to wear masks indoors, but none have followed LA and enforced the practice.

Los Angeles County on Saturday confirmed 1,827 new cases of the coronavirus – the second-largest daily total the region has seen in months – and a slight increase that public health officials say is evidence of a alarming trend of increased community spread.

Saturday’s case count was four times higher than the 457 daily infections reported on July 4 and eight times higher than the county’s 210 cases on June 15 when California fully reopened, health officials said. . The county also reported 11 new related deaths.

Last month, the county was seeing just 161 new cases of coronavirus per day – the lowest rates since the first weeks of the pandemic. But daily cases have been rising faster and faster since California fully reopened on June 15.

On July 9, the county began a series of consecutive days with at least 1,000 cases per day reported – the numbers rose to 1,059 Monday, 1,103 Tuesday, 1,315 Wednesday, 1,537 Thursday and 1,902 Friday.

Hospitalizations are also worsening. As of Friday, there were 507 people with COVID-19 in LA County hospitals, the highest number since April 14, and more than double the number in the past month. On a per capita basis, that means there are now more than 5 hospitalizations per 100,000 people in the county – a figure some experts say could be a reasonable threshold for reimplementing indoor masking policies.

National officials and experts have started to endorse the county’s decision, given the surge in cases, to require masks for everyone indoors, regardless of vaccination status, a mandate that must come in. in effect Saturday at 11:59 p.m.

“In certain circumstances, when you have a high level of infection dynamics, whether in Los Angeles or elsewhere, the local authorities have the discretion to go the extra mile, to take the extra step necessary to make sure that the spread of this virus is really contained, and they are doing it by saying that everyone should wear a mask, ”Dr.Anthony Fauci, the US government’s top infectious disease expert, said on NBC’s“ Nightly News ”on Friday. .

Dr Ashish Jha, dean of Brown University School of Public Health, told ABC’s World News Tonight that he believes LA County is taking appropriate action, as are other California counties in the United States. San Francisco Bay Area and Sacramento Area that recommend mask use by everyone indoors, regardless of immunization status.

“These counties are acting with caution because the number of infections is increasing so rapidly,” Jha said. “We can’t tell who is vaccinated and who is not. And we know there are cases of major infections, even for people who have been vaccinated. So it makes sense in places where the number of infections is increasing to hand over the mask warrants. ”

Vaccines are extraordinarily protective against serious illness and death. Between December 7 and June 7, unvaccinated people in LA County accounted for 99.6% of its coronavirus cases, 98.7% of COVID-19-related hospitalizations, and 99.8% of deaths.

But increasing levels of community transmission can also increase the risk of “breakthrough infections,” coronavirus infections of those vaccinated. This is not particularly likely, but it can happen – and it is more likely if vaccinated people are close to contagious and unvaccinated people.

“It’s a bummer to have a revolutionary infection,” said Dr. Peter Chin-Hong, a UC San Francisco infectious disease expert. Those who obtain them must inform their close contacts; they have to stay at home not to work – “it’s a disruption of life. “

This is why Chin-Hong said he thinks it is a good idea, even for people who have been vaccinated, to “just put on your mask if you are in a crowded indoor environment with a group of people you don’t know.” not “.

The good news is that people who are vaccinated are much better protected against serious illness and death. Nationally, unvaccinated people make up 97% of patients currently hospitalized for COVID-19, according to Dr. Rochelle Walensky, director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

LA County’s huge public hospital system has not had to hospitalize anyone for COVID-19 who has been fully vaccinated, said Director of Health Services Dr Christina Ghaly.

Officials hope more masking will help contain the hypercontagious Delta variant of the coronavirus, which spreads easily and has been blamed for the increase in infections across the country.

“The alarming increase in cases, positivity rates and increasing hospitalizations indicate that immediate action must be taken to slow the spread of COVID-19. Otherwise, we could quickly see more devastating disease and death among millions of people, ”said Dr. Muntu Davis, LA County Health Officer.

Health officials continue to urge all those eligible for the vaccine to get the vaccine immediately. The risk of increased spread is greatest in unvaccinated people. Cases are increasing the most in adults aged 18 to 49, according to county data.

Officials warn that the more COVID-19 spreads, the more opportunities it has to mutate and potentially create another easily transmitted and dangerous variant.

“The urgency to get more people vaccinated remains high with this level of spread,” Davis said. ” For everyone [who is] eligible and still waiting to be vaccinated, now is the time to do so. “

While other counties in Southern California are also seeing an increase in the number of cases, LA County is the first to expand mask requirements.

In Orange County, public health officials have encouraged unvaccinated residents to avoid large crowds and poorly ventilated spaces and to continue to hide in indoor public spaces. However, there are no plans to implement a new mask mandate.

“With the recent reopening of the state’s economy, we were expecting an increase in our COVID-19 cases and positivity rates,” said Dr Clayton Chau, County Health Officer of Orange. “This means we must continue to be proactive to protect our loved ones and neighbors and take the necessary steps to help reduce the risk of infection throughout our county. “


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