By LILY TINOCO | Assistant Editor
Rising cases of COVID-19, increased circulation of new Omicron strains and high transmission of respiratory illnesses have prompted Los Angeles County Department of Public Health to strongly recommend masking in indoor public spaces.
Public Health reported an increase in COVID-19 cases on November 18, with over 100 new cases per 100,000 individuals—up from the 86 cases per 100,000 individuals reported earlier in November.
In line with LA County’s COVID Response Plan, masking in all indoor public places is now highly recommended. The recommendation includes schools, retail establishments, entertainment venues, public transit, homeless and emergency shelters, and more.
While optional in those settings, masks are still required for individuals who have been exposed to COVID, and in healthcare and congregate care facilities.
Local precautions come as the county also faces increased circulation of “newly emerging” COVID-19 strains BQ.1 and BQ.1.1, as well as the flu and respiratory syncytial virus, or RSV.
“Throughout the pandemic there has been mounting evidence that wearing a mask is an effective way to limit the spread of respiratory viruses,” according to Public Health. “With the current case rate of 100 cases per 100,000 individuals, at a 200-person event, the probability that at least one person at the event is infected with COVID-19 is 45 [to] 60%. If the case rate continues to increase and reaches 150 cases per 100,000 individuals, this probability jumps to 60 [to] 75%.”
Along with masking, Public Health recommended testing before gathering, testing when traveling and staying home if sick.
“In winter, we find ourselves indoors more often—at family holiday gatherings, entertainment events and shopping for gifts—all situations that can increase exposure to COVID-19 and other respiratory viruses,” Dr. Barbara Ferrer, director of Public Health, said in a statement. “While the three viruses currently circulating at elevated levels, COVID-19, flu and RSV, are not new, this season is the first time all three are circulating at high levels at the same time … We can each make a difference now by protecting ourselves and those around us.”
Public Health suggested everyone 5 years and older stay up to date with COVID vaccines to reduce transmission of the virus. Angelenos are 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.
As of Wednesday, November 23, over 20.8 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines had been administered to people across LA County. To date, 89.2% of Pacific Palisades and 89.4% of Palisades Highlands residents have gotten at least one shot, according to data from Public Health.
As the Palisadian-Post went to print Tuesday, the number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 had reached 3,538,009 across the county when factoring in Long Beach and Pasadena, with 34,179 deaths.
Pacific Palisades had reached 4,721 confirmed cases and 20 deaths Tuesday, with an additional 877 cases in Palisades Highlands and two deaths.
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