Los Angeles Officially Enters CDC’s “High” Covid Community Level & Mask Mandate Countdown Begins

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“As of today, we have moved from the medium to the “High” covid community level,” said Los Angeles County Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer today.

If the county remains in the CDC-designated High level for two consecutive weeks, it will again impose what Ferrer called “a universal mandatory indoor mask-wearing mandate.” Ferrer has warned of the prospect for weeks.

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The community level is determined by hospitalization rates. The 7-day rate of 10.5 hospitalizations per 100,000 residents. A rate of 10.0 or higher is a key threshold for moving into the CDC’s highest community level.

Today, L.A. saw its highest number of daily new cases since the original Omicon wave in January. The number of new cases, 8,535, tops the previous post-January high, which was about 8,300 on Saturday. One important difference however is that, while the average 7-day test positivity in the county was just under 8.5% at the end of January, today it is 17%.

Ferrer said that the number of cases is likely to be greatly undercounted, since so many Angelenos now use at-home tests, the results of which are not reported. Anecdotally, she said that providers such as doctors, hospitals and nurses “are telling us [that they are seeing] 40% test positivity rate among patients coming in for care.”

The current dominant BA.5 subvariant is many times more transmissible than the original Omicon that caused the winter wave and thought to be driving the currenet surge.

Ferrer also revealed that a newer, possibly even more transmissible Omicron subvariant, called BA.2.75, has been found in L.A. County.

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