L.A. County Authorities Eye New Mask Mandate by End of July

If L.A. County’s COVID hospitalization rate doesn’t drop fast, we could all be masking up again just in time to really sweat our faces off

After a fleeting interlude of unabashedly naked faces practically everywhere you looked in L.A., county health officials are set to impose a new period of mandated masking at pubic indoor spaces by the end of July if the COVID situation doesn’t improve, the Los Angeles Times reports.

With hospitalizations on the rise thanks in part to the exciting new BA.5 Omicron subvariant, L.A. may once more become the only Southern California county to make everyone mask-up again, just when they thought it was safe to go back in the building. It was the same situation last summer, when the Delta variant hit, the paper notes. That time, although L.A. was first to pull the trigger, it was followed by at least another 20 counties, including Ventura, Santa Barbara, Santa Cruz, Sacramento and a big piece of the San Francisco Bay Area.

It’s unclear if any of them will follow suit now.

The county will issue a mask order if L.A. remains on the “high” level of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s three-tier assessment rating of community COVID risk. L.A. officially returned to the high level—which is also the highest level—on Thursday. To reach the high community risk level, L.A. County first had to observe at least 10 new weekly COVID-positive hospitalizations for every 100,000 residents.

According to CDC data released on June 2, the rate listed for L.A. County was 9.7, a 17 percent jump from the previous week’s rate of 8.3 percent. And while it seems more likely than not that L.A. will remain at the heightened level through the critical two weeks, no other California county is linking a return to compelled-masking to the CDC’s rating system, the Times notes.

The earliest a reissued L.A. County indoor mask mandate could take effect is July 29. Along with L.A., 41 other counties are in the high level as of this week. So far, none of them has a similar plan in the works, according to the Times.

The CDC releases updated community level assessments every Thursday.

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