Mask Mandates May Return Again as COVID Cases Climb
Mast mandates may be back on the table for states where the number of COVID cases are once again causing serious alarm for health officials. The county in the spotlight right now is Los Angeles County, where cases have spiked over the past few weeks with more than 2,700 new COVID infections per day, which is a 180% increase since Nov. 1. "There is this common line of thinking that the pandemic is over and COVID is no longer of concern, but these numbers clearly demonstrate that COVID is still with us," says County Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer. Read on—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You've Already Had COVID.
Health officials are saying these possible mandates may be enforced to prevent hospitals from being overloaded. "Given both the increases in hospitalizations and the lack of certainty in the winter trajectory for COVID-19, continuing some common-sense mitigation strategies that we know work to limit transmission and illness, including masking and being up to date on vaccines and boosters, remains a very sensible approach," Ferrer says.
Ferrer believes the actual number of COVID cases is much higher than what's being reported due to at-home testing. As of the beginning of December, approximately 40% of virus patients were admitted to hospital for issues directly relating to COVID, while others were admitted for other health issues but tested positive at the hospital.
A report from the Department of Health and Human Services encourages mask wearing to protect those with long COVID. "The lifting of mask mandates and indifferent attitude toward masking and social distancing typical in many public and private places further isolates people with Long COVID," the report said. "[Policymakers should] encourage or mandate policies and protocols regarding masking and social distancing in public spaces."
Los Angeles County May Reach "High" Category
Health officials believe Los Angeles County will reach the "high" category for COVID as soon as a week. "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," says county Health Officer Dr. Muntu Davis.
When Will Mask Mandate Return?
Ferrer says masking laws will return according to rules set by the CDC. This means daily hospital admissions in Los Angeles County should not exceed 10 per 100,000, and less than 10% of hospital beds should be occupied by people who are COVID patients.
How to Stay Safe Out There
Follow the public health fundamentals and help end this pandemic, no matter where you live—get vaccinated or boosted ASAP; if you live in an area with low vaccination rates, wear an N95 face mask, don't travel, social distance, avoid large crowds, don't go indoors with people you're not sheltering with (especially in bars), practice good hand hygiene, and to protect your life and the lives of others, don't visit any of these 35 Places You're Most Likely to Catch COVID.