COVID in LA: Here’s How Soon Los Angeles County Can Bring Back Indoor Mask Requirement

LOS ANGELES (KABC) – Residents of Los Angeles County may see masks make a comeback in enclosed public places in the coming weeks.

LA County Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer again estimated that the county could move to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s “high” virus activity category by the end of June. If the county remains in the “high” category for two consecutive weeks, the county will reimpose a universal mandate to wear indoor masks, she said.

The county is currently at the CDC’s “average” level of COVID activity. It will move into the “high” category if its average daily rate of new COVID-related hospital admissions rises above 10 per 100,000 residents, or if the percentage of hospital beds occupied by COVID-positive patients exceeds 10%.

Health officials say cases would have to decline significantly over the next week to stay in the “average” category, but what’s really driving the move to a higher level is the steady rise in hospitalizations.

RELATED: LA County Moves Closer to Possibly Returning to Indoor Mask Requirement

Last week, about 83 people a day were admitted to LA County hospitals, a rate 90% higher than a month ago. If residents continue to see an increase in hospitalizations, Ferrer predicts that internal masking will return.

“The current estimate leads us to reach this ‘high’ community level threshold by the end of June. If there is a change in the rate of increase between hospital admissions, the date could be earlier or later,” she said.

Nationally this week, nearly 2,000 Americans have died from the virus. In LA County, COVID deaths remain steady at about seven a day.

“And that probably reflects the power of our vaccines, our boosters and our therapeutics,” Ferrer said.

On Wednesday, a statement from the US Food and Drug Administration endorsed COVID-19 vaccines for children under age 5.

Pfizer’s vaccine, a three-dose series, is one-tenth the size of the adult dose. The company’s initial data showed it was 80% effective at preventing symptomatic COVID.

Moderna’s two-dose vaccine is one-quarter the size of the adult dose.

Early data showed it was 40 to 50% effective in preventing mild infections.

Both vaccines generated levels of antibodies against the omicron variant similar to those seen in adults.

“We should also pay attention to the antibody response and how well these vaccines protect against serious illness and hospitalization,” said Dr. Alok Patel of Stanford Children’s Health.

On Friday, a CDC advisory panel will begin reviewing data from Pfizer and Moderna and will vote on their recommended use. So far, states have ordered 3.8 million doses of vaccines for the youngest children. It’s a play that will pre-position them so they can be available next Tuesday.

“This virus is changing and we need to keep up with it,” said White House Chief Advisor Dr. Anthony Fauci.

Sounding great despite a positive diagnosis for COVID, Fauci testified on Capitol Hill as the battle to secure funding for new-generation vaccines and therapeutics continues.

Fauci also discussed the importance of booster shots to minimize symptoms if infected with the newer subvariants.

He had received two booster shots before testing positive.

City News Service contributed to this report.

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