California: The Countdown to Mask-Mandates has Begun

Sarah Stierch (CC BY 4.0)

For residents in Los Angeles, the calendar may say July 2022, but it may soon feel like March 2020 as mask mandates are looming large.

LA County returned to the “high” level for COVID-19 community spread on Thursday. The high level prompts a two-week countdown for Los Angels to eliminate that “label” before an indoor masking-up is required. If cases do not drop below the indicator, indoor masks will be required beginning July 29.

“For many, this will feel like a step backward,” said Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer. “The reality is because we are living with a mutating SARS-CoV2 virus, there remains uncertainty around the trajectory of this pandemic.”

The BA.5 subvariant of the omicron strain has caused an uptick in cases and hospitalizations in LA County.

The LA County COVID-19 dashboard indicates the daily positivity rate hovered near 4% in early June. However, by Wednesday, it had shot up more than 15%. During the same timeframe, hospitalizations increased from slightly more than 400 to over 1,000.

On Monday, the University of California Irvine will require all students and staff to wear masks while inside campus buildings amid the new COVID-19 surge.

The Los Angeles Times said the “high” community spread classification was the first time the county hit the mark since February.

If the COVID-19 numbers drop to medium in the next two weeks, the clock will be reset, pushing the mandate date into August.