LA County will impose mandatory indoor mask mandate in 2 weeks if cases don't go down

COVID-19 cases are rising in Los Angeles County, resulting in the possible return of the mask mandate

Los Angeles County Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer says the county remains on pace to move into the "high" COVID-19 community level by this Thursday.

If the county remains in the "high" level for two consecutive weeks, it will again impose a mandatory indoor mask-wearing mandate. The level is determined by hospitalization rates. It will reach the "high" category if the seven-day average of new COVID-related hospital admissions reaches 10 per 100,000 residents. As of Tuesday, that rate was at 8.8 per 100,000 residents.

"Given the continued increase, we do anticipate by this Thursday the county will move into that high level," Ferrer said. "I do recognize that when we return to universal indoor masking to reduce high spread, for many this will feel like a step backwards," Ferrer said.

But she said universal masking "makes a lot of sense because it helps us to reduce risk."

According to state figures, there are now 1,153 COVID-positive patients in county hospitals, with 115 of them being treated in intensive care. Hospital numbers have been steadily rising in recent months, an increase health officials have attributed to renewed rapid spread of the virus thanks to the infectious BA.4 and BA.5 variants, which authorities say are highly contagious and capable of re-infecting previous patients.

The county logged 18,158 new COVID-19 infections over the past three days, while also recording 39 new deaths, according to figures recently released.

The new infections recorded between Saturday and Monday lifted the county's cumulative total from throughout the pandemic to 3,178,242. County officials noted that the number of new cases could be low due to delays in reporting from some labs over the weekend.


Health officials have also warned that the actual number of new infections occurring in the county is not fully reflected in the daily numbers, since many people now rely on at-home tests, the results of which are not always reported to the county.

The 39 new virus-related deaths reported Monday lifted the overall death toll in the county to 32,451. Health officials have said that a majority of the deaths occurred in people with at least one underlying health condition, mainly hypertension, diabetes and heart disease.

The average daily rate of people testing positive for the virus was 14.8% as of Monday.