L.A. County coronavirus cases start to flatten as decision on mask mandate looms

Weekly coronavirus cases are showing early signs of leveling off in Los Angeles County but remain at significantly elevated levels amid a decision next week on whether to introduce a new indoor mask mandate.

It’s too early to tell if this is an outlier or the start of an ongoing trend. Since cases began to spike in late March, there have been three cases where they started falling, only to be followed later by steeper increases, with transmission compounded by increasingly ultra-contagious variants that can reinfect people within weeks.

But the recent leveling off in cases was something LA County Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer also publicly noted this week. Should a flattening in cases be followed by a sharp drop in the coming days — which cannot be predicted with certainty — it’s possible Ferrer could postpone a universal mask mandate that was due to go into effect Friday if conditions improve by then not improve .

“You can see this sign of plateau falls over the past week and we’re hoping this continues,” Ferrer said at a news conference Thursday. “However, I would like to point out that over the last two months we have seen some small dips which were then followed by further increases so it makes sense for us to continue to be cautious given the relatively high case numbers we are seeing.”

The latest figures do not show a sharp drop in cases. But, Ferrer said Thursday, “should we see a sharp drop in our numbers next week … we’ll probably want to pause to move too fast with universal indoor masking.” [order]. Because if our cases go down really big, in a few weeks our hospitalizations will probably go down too.”

As of Friday night, LA County was averaging about 6,600 new coronavirus cases per day for the past week, down 2% on the week. Per capita, that’s 460 new cases per week per 100,000 people; a rate of 100 or more is considered high.

The trigger that put LA County on the path to a universal mask mandate was the rate of new coronavirus-positive hospital admissions rising above a certain threshold, meaning the county was at a “high” COVID-19 community level , as defined by the US Centers for Disease Control Guidelines.

That threshold is 10 or more coronavirus-positive hospital admissions per week per 100,000 population. LA County’s rate was 10.5 on July 14 and 11.4 on Thursday.

However, Ferrer added that new coronavirus-positive hospitalizations “may also slow down a bit.”

Data released on Friday added the possibility that the increase in hospital admissions could be slowing, although it will take more days of data to be sure. As of Thursday, there were 1,247 coronavirus-positive patients in LA County hospitals, a 2% week-on-week increase. The previous week-to-week increase was 20%.

LA County recorded 1,329 coronavirus-positive hospitalizations as of Wednesday. A day later, the balance fell by 6%.

A sustained reduction in coronavirus cases in the coming days — if that happens — would eventually bring LA County back to the “intermediate” COVID-19 community level, Ferrer said.

“You can see that we are on the threshold between medium and high. It won’t take much to get us back to that mid-level community if we can bring our case numbers down,” Ferrer said.

LA County’s weekly COVID-19 deaths remain elevated As of Friday, LA County was recording about 100 deaths a week; A month ago it was recording about 50 deaths a week.

California’s COVID-19 deaths have also started to rise. In June, California was averaging about 200 deaths a week; So far in July, the state has averaged about 260 deaths per week.

Hospitalizations statewide are also increasing at a more modest pace over the past week. As of Thursday, there were 4,711 coronavirus-positive patients in California, up 6% from the previous week. The previous week-on-week increase was 11%.

Hospital admissions have been falling across the country in recent days. On Tuesday, coronavirus-positive hospital admissions hit a summer high of 4,790 and were down 1.6% through Thursday.

The number of coronavirus-positive intensive care patients throughout Germany continues to grow. On Thursday it was 552, up 15% from a week earlier.

Of the state’s 25 most populous counties, LA County now has the highest coronavirus case rate, followed by San Diego, Fresno, San Bernardino and Riverside counties. The San Francisco Bay Area once had the highest fall rate in the state, but now ranks below Southern California as a region.

A renewed LA County indoor mask mandate would apply to everyone ages 2 and older in a variety of facilities and venues, including shared office spaces, manufacturing and retail environments, event spaces, restaurants and bars, gyms and yoga studios, educational institutions and children’s programs.

Such an order would be lifted if the county exits the high COVID-19 community level and stays out of that category for two consecutive weeks. However, Ferrer has also raised the possibility of a faster exit from a masking order depending on the situation.

Some critics question the need for a mask requirement. Hospitals and intensive care units are nowhere near as strained as they were during the peak periods of previous crises, and the overall relative risk of serious illness is far lower than it was a year or two ago, thanks in part to vaccination and anti-COVID drugs.

Some business groups have expressed concerns that ordering masks could prompt shoppers to take their money elsewhere or that workers will have to enforce rules many no longer want to follow.

Agreeing that the risk of COVID-19 is lower than it used to be, Ferrer said, “We’re in a much better place.” However, she said worrying signs had emerged on Thursday and suggested the need for a mask order by the end of the year Month ahead if cases don’t fall dramatically in the coming days.

The percentage of emergency room visits related to COVID-19 in the county has doubled from 5% to 10% since Memorial Day. The construction sites have experienced significant disruption and some are short of staff. LA County reported 429 workplaces with clusters of coronavirus cases last week, more than double the number in early June. There were 33 nursing homes with newly reported outbreaks, a number that has doubled over the same period.

“High levels of community transmission also result in preventable and preventable deaths, especially among those most at risk,” Ferrer said. “If we can slow down the transmission, we have a good chance of preventing some deaths in the coming months.”

https://www.latimes.com/california/story/2022-07-23/l-a-county-coronavirus-cases-start-to-flatten-as-decision-on-mask-mandate-looms L.A. County coronavirus cases start to flatten as decision on mask mandate looms

Alley Einstein

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