Los Angeles County is advising residents to wear masks indoors amid an increase in COVID-19 transmission.
On Thursday, the largest county in the United States said it is “strongly recommending” people wear face coverings in indoor public settings but stopped short of requiring them.
Under an updated response plan released this week, the county said it would issue the recommendations if the COVID-19 case rate hit 100 per 100,000 residents, which it did Thursday, up from 86 per 100,000 one week ago.
“Now, it is strongly recommended that all individuals wear a high-quality mask that fits well in the following settings: in public indoor spaces; when using public transit, including buses, ride-shares, taxis and medical transport; correctional and detention facilities; and homeless and emergency shelters,” county Health Officer Dr. Muntu Davis said during a media briefing.
Masks are still required for those who work in health care facilities, who have been exposed to COVID-19 in the last 10 days and anywhere mandates are in place.
Data from the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health shows an average of 1,500 cases per day have been reported in the last week, an increase from the 1,300 per day reported last week. Test positivity has also increased from 5.8% to 6.8%
Davis told reporters during the briefing this is likely an undercount due to people testing positive with at-home rapid tests and not reporting their results to the health department as well as people who are not testing at all.
Additionally, the number of hospitalized patients has risen from 464 as of Nov. 10 to 601 as of Thursday, data shows.
Daily deaths from COVID-19 remain low with an average of about eight reported per day, but Davis said he expects this number will climb because death tolls generally tend to lag cases and hospitalizations, and both metrics are rising.
He urged residents to get vaccinated and boosted ahead of the holiday season as well as to follow guidelines, including frequent handwashing and staying away from those who are sick.
“We are grateful this year to have the tools that allow us to gather with a lot of safety,” Davis said. “It will mean, however, that all of us likely will need to take some commonsense precautions to avoid future disruptions and the spread of illness.”