By LILY TINOCO | Reporter
A Los Angeles County Health Officer Order has been modified to require masks indoors—regardless of vaccination status—after community transmission of COVID-19 increased across the region, effective Saturday, July 17.
County of Los Angeles Public Health reported on Thursday, July 15, that transmission of COVID-19 throughout the county had increased from “moderate” to “substantial.” Public Health said it has seen an increase in new cases and hospitalizations since the June 15 reopening.
“There are 528 people with COVID-19 currently hospitalized; last Monday, there were 372 people hospitalized and on June 15, there were 218 people hospitalized,” according to Public Health. “Unfortunately, because cases increased 700% since June 15, we are now beginning to see corresponding increases in hospitalizations. Test positivity increased 10-fold from the 0.4% on June 15, to today’s test positivity rate of 4.1%.”
The mask mandate went into effect July 17 at 11:59 p.m. in all indoor public places, including venues, gatherings and businesses (including offices, restaurants, gyms, theaters, family entertainment centers, meetings, and state and local government offices serving the public).
Exceptions apply for children under the age of 2, individuals with certain medical conditions or disabilities that prevent masking, and for those whose job doesn’t permit masking.
“Because of this rapid rise, as well as the increasing presence of the more easily transmitted Delta variant of the virus, and the millions of people potentially at risk of infection, together we must reduce our risk of infection and our risk for potentially infecting others,” according to Public Health.
As of Friday, July 16, over 10 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines had been administered to people across LA County. To date, 80.1% of Pacific Palisades and 78.3% of Palisades Highlands residents have gotten at least one shot, according to data from Public Health.
Being fully vaccinated against COVID-19 lowers the risk of infection and more significantly lowers the chance of hospitalization or death, according to Public Health.
“The risk of increased spread is highest among individuals that remain unvaccinated,” according to a Public Health statement on July 16. “The more COVID-19 spreads, the more opportunities it has to mutate—and the more COVID-19 mutates, the greater the chance there may be another variant that can spread even more quickly or cause more harm to the people it infects.”
Anyone 12 and older living or working throughout LA County is eligible to get vaccinated at county-run vaccination sites, LA City sites, and St. John’s Well Child and Family Center sites. To find a vaccination site or make an appointment, visit vaccinateLAcounty.com.
“If you’ve received the vaccine, you can feel really good that you have a strong degree of protection, including against the Delta variant,” Dr. Michael Ben-Aderet, associate medical director of Hospital Epidemiology at Cedars-Sinai, said in a statement, adding a “small number of people might still be susceptible to developing mild illness or asymptomatic infection.”
According to Ben-Aderet, “those who are unvaccinated, as well as some immune compromised people, are most vulnerable, and until vaccination rates improve, returning to universal masking in indoor settings in the best way to get ahead of a potential surge.”
As the Post went to print Tuesday, the number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 had reached 1,270,886 across the county when factoring in Long Beach and Pasadena, with 24,587 deaths. The county’s daily test positivity rate is 4.1%.
Pacific Palisades had reached 904 confirmed cases and 16 deaths Tuesday, with an additional 159 in Palisades Highlands and one death.
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