LOS ANGELES - More than a dozen cities in California are now classified as "high" transmission risk areas as COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations continue to rise statewide, according to the latest data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The CDC categorizes each city into one of three levels for community spread - low, medium, and high. Here are the counties in the "high" category, all of which are in Northern and Central California:
- Del Norte
- El Dorado
- San Benito
- Santa Clara
There are no Southern California counties in the "high" category as of Monday afternoon.
Here are the statuses of counties in Southern California:
- Los Angeles: Medium
- Orange: Medium
- Riverside: Low
- San Bernardino: Low
- Ventura: Medium
- San Luis Obispo: Medium
- San Diego: Medium
- Imperial Valley: Low
The CDC classifies each city into one of the three community levels based on the number of new cases, new hospital admissions, and number of hospital beds filled with COVID patients.
Indoor mask mandates are recommended by the CDC in counties with "high" community spread.
Last week, Alameda County in the Bay Area became the first in California to reinstate its indoor mask mandate after it recently surpassed the levels seen last summer when the Delta variant ran rampantly. The county said it was approaching the peak that hit during winter 2020-2021. According to the CDC map, Alameda County is in the "medium" category.
Sacramento City Unified School District reinstated its indoor masking mandate effective Monday amid the rising tide of COVID-19 in California.
The district announced the move last week when the CDC moved Sacramento County into the "high" level of community transmission.
Last month, UCLA and Cal Poly San Luis Obispo were among schools returning to masking requirements.
Los Angeles County is in the "medium" tier of community transmission but could reach the highest level by the end of the month, increasing stress on the health care system, according to Barbara Ferrer, the public health director.
Ferrer said that if the quickening pace of virus-related hospital admissions seen over the past few weeks continues, the county could be moved to the "high" virus-activity category by the end of June, which would mean the return of mandatory indoor mask wearing rules.
A county moves from the "medium" category into the "high" category if its average daily rate of new COVID-related hospital admissions rises above 10 per 100,000 residents, or if the percentage of staffed hospital beds occupied by COVID-positive patients tops 10%.
Los Angeles County currently requires masks indoors at healthcare facilities, aboard transit vehicles and in transit hubs such as airports, in long-term care facilities, in shelters and cooling centers and in correctional facilities.
"Each resident should consider not only their own personal risk, but also the risk to family members, friends, co-workers and those sharing public spaces, as they make decisions about taking precautions such as masking, gathering, getting tested, and getting vaccinated or boosted," she said in a statement Friday.
"In situations where transmission risk is higher, we know with certainty that masking allows us to protect ourselves and those around us. Masking helps protect those in our county who are more vulnerable. We help keep everyone working. And it is a fairly simple way to do our part to help prevent overburdening the healthcare system we all depend on."
The CDC's map is updated every Thursday.
City News Service and Associated Press contributed to this report.