Mask mandate reinstated at Los Angeles County healthcare facilities

Ella Castle

Amid a significant rise in respiratory illnesses, all Los Angeles County healthcare facilities have reinstated a mask mandate. The order is in direct response to a rising number of COVID-19 infections leading to hospitalizations and deaths, officials said Saturday. The county’s number of COVID hospital admissions officially entered the CDC’s […]

Amid a significant rise in respiratory illnesses, all Los Angeles County healthcare facilities have reinstated a mask mandate.

The order is in direct response to a rising number of COVID-19 infections leading to hospitalizations and deaths, officials said Saturday.

The county’s number of COVID hospital admissions officially entered the CDC’s “medium level” on Friday, Dec. 29.

The agency’s levels are determined by data reflecting new COVID hospital admissions, hospital beds being used by COVID patients and the total number of new COVID cases in the community.

“We’re starting to see the effects of gathering during the holidays, a variant that is likely to be more contagious, more easily infecting people, low rates of immunization,” explained Dr. Annie Rimoin, professor of epidemiology at UCLA Fielding School of Public Health. “And the weather’s been cold so people are gathering inside.”

Licensed healthcare facilities that are subject to the mask mandate include:

  • General Acute Care Hospitals
  • Skilled Nursing Facilities (including Subacute Facilities)
  • Intermediate Care Facilities
  • Emergency Medical Services (EMS) Provider Agencies
  • Congregate Living Health Facilities
  • Chemical Dependency Recovery Hospitals
  • Acute Psychiatric Hospitals
  • Dialysis Centers
  • Home Health Agencies
  • Primary Care Clinics
  • Ambulatory Surgery Centers
  • Hospice Facilities
  • Health care workers watch as medical workers try to resuscitate a patient who tested positive for coronavirus at Providence Holy Cross Medical Center in the Mission Hills area of Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong, File)
  • Hospital workers attend a candlelight vigil outside Hollywood Presbyterian Medical Center for a nurse who died of the coronavirus.(Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times)

“During December 2023, the rate of new COVID-19 Hospital Admissions has steadily increased toward the CDC’s Medium Level,” the county mandate states. “For the previous 8 months, COVID-19 hospital admissions remained at the CDC’s Low Level. This current increase indicates a higher impact of serious illness from COVID-19 on the community.”

The threshold for the CDC’s medium level is between 10 and 19.9 new COVID hospital admissions per 100,000 population over a seven-day period.

In L.A. County over the past week, around 10.5 new COVID-related hospital admissions were reported.

The masking requirement can only be lifted once the county’s hospital admission levels retreat into the low threshold for at least 14 consecutive days.

As a rising tripledemic sickens families across SoCal, health officials said nearly one in four L.A. County residents have fallen ill in December alone.

“This year, more than any other year, we are seeing more of influenza, RSV and COVID, higher than what we’ve seen in years past,” explained Dr. Ali Jamehdor at Dignity Health.

Across the state, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention notes the level of flu-like illnesses, which include non-flu viruses such as coronavirus, is considered high.

Health officials offer these tips to help protect yourself against the spread of COVID-19 and other respiratory viruses:

  • Stay home if you are sick or showing symptoms such as coughing, sneezing, sore throat or fever
  • Immediately test if you have symptoms or were exposed to COVID-19, especially before visiting those who are vulnerable or immunocompromised
  • Wash your hands often
  • Wear a well-fitted, high-quality mask to help protect against transmission in crowded indoor spaces

Anyone with questions about the flu, RSV, or COVID-19, including where to get vaccinated and how or when to test for COVID-19, the L.A. County Public Health InfoLine is open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. seven days a week at 1-833-540-0473. More information is available online here or on the county’s COVID-19 website.

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