The pace of admissions of COVID-19 positive patients to Los Angeles County hospitals has slowed, pushing back estimates of when an indoor mask-wearing mandate could be reimposed, with such a move potentially being averted if Admission numbers are plateauing or beginning to fall, a health official said Thursday, June 23.
dr Paul Simon, chief scientific officer for the district department of public health, said the rate of increase in COVID-positive patients is gradually decreasing. The current seven-day average of new hospital admissions for people with the virus is 84 a day, Simon said, just a small increase from 83 the previous week.
The rate of hospital admissions was 7.3 per 100,000 residents over the past week. That was the same rate as the previous week and ended a steady upward trend that has raised the possibility of a new county universal indoor mask mandate.
According to metrics set by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the county would move from the “moderate” viral activity category to the “high” level when the rate of new hospitalizations reaches 10 per 100,000 residents. If the county reaches the high level and stays there for two weeks, a new indoor mask mandate will be imposed.
County health officials previously forecast that at the previous rate of increase, the county would reach the “high” category by late June or early July. But with the pace now slowing, Simon said the current forecast is that the county won’t reach the high category until at least mid-July.
He noted that the county could avoid even reaching that level if transmission of the virus slowed, leading to an expected drop in hospitalizations.
While virus transmission is still considered high across the county, the average number of local new infections has gradually leveled off and even declined. Simon said the current rate of new daily cases is around 4,400 a day, down 6% from the previous week.
But the case numbers are likely artificially low because many people rely on take-home COVID tests, the results of which aren’t always reported to the county and therefore aren’t included in the official total.
Simon thanked residents who have continued to take infection control measures – like wearing masks even without a mandate. He said such personal choices affect the overall infection rate.
“I know the public gets very tired with our repeated messages, but it’s so important – be as strategic as possible,” he said. “…In certain settings, when you know there is a greater risk of transmitting the virus, wear that mask.”
The county reported an additional 5,621 COVID infections Thursday, giving the county a cumulative total of 3,082,401 throughout the pandemic. A further 12 virus-related deaths were reported, bringing the local death toll to 32,283.
The average daily rate of people testing positive for the virus was 11.6% on Thursday. The rate has risen, most likely due to the drastic reduction in the overall level of testing carried out daily as schools are out of action over the summer.
According to government figures, there were 688 COVID-positive patients in county hospitals as of Thursday, up from 679 on Wednesday. The number of patients treated in intensive care was 69, up from 67 the day before.