In what has now become a trend during the pandemic, coronavirus cases are increasing as we enter the holiday season in LA County.
The magnitude of a potential winter surge is still far from clear. Some officials are optimistic that the surge will not be as bad as previous seasons.
But officials warn continued spikes in COVID-19 could bring a return to an indoor mask mandate.
Here’s what we know:
What are the COVID numbers in LA?
CASE: LA County’s rate of coronavirus cases has been rising since late October and is now triple what it was at a fall low. For the week that ended Thursday, LA County was seeing 2,710 cases per day — or 188 cases per week per 100,000 people. A case rate of 100 or more is considered high. The fall low was a weekly rate of 60, set on October 21st.
HOSPITALIZATIONS: According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there were 1,196 new admissions of coronavirus-positive patients for the week ending Tuesday, triple the rate in early November. This represents 11.9 new weekly hospitalizations per 100,000 inhabitants. A rate above 10 is enough to send LA County to the average COVID-19 community level.
DEATHS: The COVID-19 death rate remains stable in LA County, at around 60 per week. But if cases continue to rise, deaths will eventually rise as well.
What would it take to force a new indoor mask mandate?
If hospital measures worsen, LA County could be on track to return a mandatory mask mandate in indoor public places.
To achieve this, the case rate would have to reach 200 per week per 100,000 inhabitants. LA County could reach that threshold next week.
But before a mask mandate is triggered, the percentage of hospital beds used by coronavirus-positive patients is also expected to top 10%, a level reached only in the previous two deadliest COVID-19 winter surges. of the pandemic. The current figure is 5.6%, down from around 2% in early November.
What would the timeline for a mask mandate look like?
It would take several more weeks of increasing numbers to reach the trigger point based on current trends. It remains uncertain if this will happen.
Los Angeles County Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer said she doesn’t expect LA County to hit the hospitalization rate increase anytime soon. “I don’t think it will be there next week. I would be very surprised,” Ferrer said. “That would mean that hospitalizations are really, very rapidly increasing, much faster than we usually see.”
If LA County meets all the criteria to trigger a new mask order, officials could decide to implement the rule a few weeks later, Ferrer said.
What happened last summer when COVID cases spiked?
Over the summer, LA County reached the threshold to initiate a new mask order in response to rising cases and hospitalizations, setting off a countdown for the order to go into effect two weeks later. , end of July. But that order was never implemented, as case and hospitalization rates plummeted just in time.
“We’ll have to look at the rate of increase and what we’re seeing in terms of that to decide what that timeline would be,” Ferrer said. “And then, as we have done in the past, as soon as we see the numbers that show us that transmission has gone down and the concerns in our hospitals are less … we go ahead and lift” the order of mask.
What are the experts saying about the COVID-19 winter forecast?
The rise in cases has raised concerns and is calling on people to take precautions.
But there is also a bit of optimism.
Some of the benefits this year over previous seasons are an updated COVID-19 booster shot that matches the circulating strains of the coronavirus quite well, plenty of rapid home testing supplies, and general awareness of steps that can be taken. to avoid illness, including masking up in indoor public places, staying home when sick, and improving air circulation by hosting events outdoors, opening windows, and turning on air conditioning units air filtration.
There is even promising news regarding the relentless emergence of new coronavirus sub-variants, none of which raised alarm bells significantly like the original Omicron strain did when it burst onto the scene. world last Thanksgiving.
But COVID-19 has proven difficult to predict.
Los Angeles Times