Mask mandate might be on the horizon as BA.5 variant pushes Los Angeles County into the high COVID-19 community level
California is currently making its way through yet another severe COVID-19 wave, propelled by the BA.5 subvariant. This caused an increase in cases and hospitalizations that pushed Los Angeles County into the high COVID-19 community level and unless conditions approve, this could set off a new public indoor mask mandate by July 29, reports Los Angeles Times.
President Biden’s Covid coordinator, Dr. Ashish Jha, supports the possible mask mandate: “That said, CDC has very clear guidance on this as well through their COVID community levels. And the CDC recommendation is that when you’re in a high zone, that sort of orange zone, you know, people wearing masks indoors is really important, and it really will make a difference.”
Being home to 10 million people, Los Angeles is the most populous county and with the highly transmissible BA.5 variant’s exceptional capacity to get around the protection offered by vaccination it is easy to see how it currently accounts for 65% of COVID-19 cases.
“Officials say BA.5, thought to be the dominant version of the coronavirus circulating nationwide, is not only more contagious than previous versions but also has increased the risk of reinfection,” according to Los Angeles Times.
Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer implored employers to enact infection-control measures at indoor worksites, such as physical distancing in communal areas and masking up. “She said the evidence is "crystal clear'' that masking, particularly with a higher-grade N95 or KN95 mask, works to prevent the spread of the virus,” reports NBC Los Angeles.
The following key points for mask-wearing rules and recommendations are currently listed on the LA County Department of Public Health website:
- “Masks are strongly recommended in most indoor public places for everyone 2 years of age and older. There are some settings where everyone must wear a mask regardless of vaccination status. See Mask Wearing Rules and Recommendations.”
- “In order to work well, a mask needs to have both a good fit and good filtration. A good fit means that the mask covers your mouth and nose and fits snugly against the sides of your face and your nose. Good filtration means the material that the mask is made of blocks the virus well. You can get good filtration by wearing a mask that has several layers made of certain materials.”
- “While all masks provide some level of protection, well-fitting respirators (e.g., N95 and KN95) provide the best protection. Wearing a highly protective mask is important for high-risk situations and for people at increased risk for severe disease.”
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