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L.A. on verge of returning to indoor mask mandate amid COVID-19 surge

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Los Angeles County of the verge of returning to indoor mask mandates following a surge in COVID-19 infections and hospitalizations. File Photo by Jim Ruymen/UPI
Los Angeles County of the verge of returning to indoor mask mandates following a surge in COVID-19 infections and hospitalizations. File Photo by Jim Ruymen/UPI | License Photo

Dec. 3 (UPI) -- Los Angeles County is on the verge of returning to indoor mask mandates following a surge in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations.

Los Angeles County's public health department on Friday reported a seven-day average daily case count of 3,053, marking a 44% surge from the previous seven-day average of 2,121 cases.

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Meanwhile, the average daily number of COVID-positive patients in Los Angeles County hospitals rose to 1,056, a 39% increase from the previous seven day period which saw an average of 760.

"While there still is uncertainty about what the impact of COVID-19 will be this winter, there is mounting evidence that we are entering another COVID-19 surge," said Barbara Ferrer, the county's director of public heath.

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The county case rate rose from 11.9 cases per 100,000 people to 185 new cases per 100,000 people, meaning Los Angeles' community designation ramped up from "low" to "medium" under Center for Disease Control guidelines.

Federal regulations don't require a policy change for a medium designation, but if the number of cases rises to 200 per 100,000 people, designation changes to "high."

During a press conference Thursday, Ferrer emphasized that indoor mask mandates would be reimposed if a "high" community level designation was reached. Though the mask mandate is yet to return, Los Angeles County is already recommending indoor mask use in response to elevated numbers.

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Last month county health officer Muntu Davis said 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."

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