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Indoor masking could return as COVID cases spike, health officials say

Los Angeles County Director of Public Health, Dr. Barbara Ferrer, believes that if COVID-19 cases continue to rise, the county could move back into the high transmission level as soon as next week, which would mean the return of mandatory indoor masking in places like restaurants, bars and schools.  

“We would be back to saying our health care system is getting stressed out, we need to slow down transmission,” Ferrer said in a Thursday press conference.  

She also announced that the county was moving from low transmission levels to medium because cases and hospitalizations are rising.  

L.A. County has now reported more than 2,700 cases a day or 188 cases per 100,000 residents weekly.  

Health officials said the county will move into high transmission levels if reporting grows to 200 cases per 100,000 residents weekly.   

“We had more people report to us positive COVID tests after they came back from Thanksgiving than we have ever had before, so there is just a lot of transmission,” Ferrer said.  

Hospitals have also seen an influx of children impacted by the coronavirus.  

At Children’s Hospital Los Angeles, COVID positivity jumped by 2.8% from October to November with 1 in 4 children admitted into the intensive care unit.  

“I will tell you, I am definitely being pushed to the limit,” Dr. Neela Sethi, a pediatrician at Valencia Pediatrics, told KTLA’s Pedro Rivera.  

Dr. Sethi said she’s seen a winter surge of COVID fill up emergency rooms and hospital beds and that’s not including children hit hard by RSV and the flu.  

“Our ERs are completely overwhelmed. There are no hospital beds. ER wait times are like four to five hours. So, what we tell parents is contact us, let us help you with supportive care,” Sethi said.  

This is why, according to Sethi, doctors have asked parents to just keep a close eye on their kids before bringing them in for treatment.  

“If they feel like they are getting very sick overnight and struggling to breathe or they look very out of it and they’re not eating, they’re not drinking fluids, they’re not sleeping as well, then it warrants an ER visit,” Sethi said.  

As of Thursday night, county public health officials are strongly recommend people wear masks indoors and urge residents to get vaccinated for protection from more severe symptoms of COVID.  

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