LOS ANGELES – With COVID-19 hospitalizations continuing to rise, Los Angeles County is on pace to reach the “high” virus activity level by next week, which could equate to another universal indoor mask-wearing mandate by the end of the month, the public health director said.
The county is currently in the “medium” virus activity level, as defined by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It will reach the “high” category if the seven-day average of new COVID-related hospital admissions reaches 10 per 100,000 residents.
As of Thursday, the county’s admission rate was 8.4 per 100,000 residents. But given the rate of increase over the past two weeks, the county is on pace to reach 10 per 100,000 residents by next Thursday,
If the county remains at that high level for two consecutive weeks, it will re-impose a mandatory indoor mask-wearing mandate. Under the current schedule, that would happen on July 29.
According to state figures, there were 989 COVID-positive patients in county hospitals as of Thursday, up from 920 a day earlier. The number of patients being treated in intensive care was 103, up from 89 on Wednesday.
Health officials have said that many of those patients entered the hospital for other reasons before testing positive for COVID, but they still place an added burden on hospital staff as they require special infection- control measures. Ferrer said roughly 40% of patients with the virus were admitted for COVID illness, while 60% were admitted for other reasons.
The CDC website on Thursday showed both Los Angeles and Orange counties with a COVID hospital admission rate of 9.7 per 100,000 residents, putting both on the precipice of entering the “high” virus activity level. Taken separately, however, Los Angeles’ rate is only 8.4 per 100,000, while Orange County’s is 13.3 per 100,000.
Los Angeles County will be relying on its separate local rate when determining when the two-week clock will being ticking on a universal indoor mask-wearing mandate.
The county reported 5,316 additional COVID cases on Thursday, raising the cumulative total from throughout the pandemic to 3,153,690. Another 13 new deaths were also reported, lifting the overall virus-related death toll to 32,397. The average daily rate of people testing positive for the virus rose to 16.9%.
The number of new cases announced by the county each day is believed to be an undercount due to the prevalence of take-home COVID tests, the results of which are not always reported to the county.