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Rising COVID rates threaten return of indoor mask mandates

A rising number of COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations has Los Angeles County health officials warning of a possible return to indoor mask mandates.

In fact, changes could be coming within weeks if we “continue on the current trajectory,” L.A. County Health Director Barbara Ferrer said during a briefing Thursday.

“We’re likely to move into the CDC high community level within a few weeks … indicating an increased stress on the health care system,” Ferrer said.

The jump to a higher CDC COVID-19 community level, the worst of the three-tier system, would mean the return of mask mandates at most indoor settings.

“While masking doesn’t guarantee that transmission will not occur, we know with certainty that masking lowers the risk of transmission, allowing us to protect ourselves and those around us,” Ferrer said.

Masks are currently still required indoors at health care facilities, long-term care facilities, shelters, cooling centers, correctional facilities and in transit hubs.

Health officials say masking should not be seen as a punishment but as a powerful tool.

Alameda County in the Bay Area became the first large jurisdiction to revive its indoor masking mandate, with orders back in place as of Friday.  

COVID-19 transmission rates are also rising in more than a dozen other counties, but there is no word yet on whether a state mask mandate is in the plans.

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