LA County reports drop in COVID-19 deaths and hospitalizations – NBC Los Angeles

Los Angeles County on Saturday reported 64 additional deaths associated with COVID-19 and 2,275 new positive tests, while the number of COVID-positive patients in county hospitals continued to decline.

There were 1,071 people with the coronavirus in hospitals across the county, up from 1,105 on Friday. Of those patients, 220 were in intensive care, up from 230 a day earlier, according to the latest state figures.

Officials said some patients entered the hospital for other reasons and found they had COVID after a mandatory test.

The number of hospitalized COVID patients has reached 8,098 and as low as 213 during the two-year pandemic. It topped 4,800 in January amid a winter surge in cases fueled by the Omicron variant, and has been falling ever since.

The rolling average daily rate of people tested for the virus was 1.4% on Saturday, down from 1.6% on Friday and 2% last Sunday, according to the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health.

Following improved measures, officials relaxed Los Angeles County’s indoor mask mandate, allowing those vaccinated for COVID-19 to remove face coverings indoors at facilities that verify clients’ vaccination status.

The change took effect at 12:01 a.m. Friday. Hours later, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced modified COVID guidelines that dropped their recommendation to wear masks indoors across much of the country – but not in Los Angeles County. .

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention introduced new measures for communities where COVID cases are declining on Friday, which means healthy people in those areas can take a break from wearing masks.

The new CDC guidelines shifted the agency’s focus on COVID infection rates to instead focus on the number of hospitalizations. The move came in recognition that with more people vaccinated, many people infected with the virus will not need to be hospitalized, reducing the likelihood of hospitals being overwhelmed with patients.

But even with that change, the CDC still classified the Los Angeles County community’s COVID level as “high,” meaning the agency continued to recommend wearing an indoor mask. It was unclear when the county might fall into the “medium” category, which would drop the mask-wearing recommendation for most indoor locations. But it could potentially happen within days.

It was also unclear whether the county will follow new CDC guidelines or stick to its previous measures in determining when to lift the remainder of the indoor mask-wearing mandate. County Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer told reporters Thursday that health officials would review the CDC’s new measures and likely present some options to the oversight board next week.

In the meantime, the indoor mask mandate will remain in place for most locations in the county. But under relaxed rules that came into effect on Friday, vaccinated people will be able to throw away masks at indoor businesses that check the vaccination status of all customers. The rule requires individual businesses to verify that all customers allowed inside are either fully vaccinated or can provide proof of a recent negative COVID test.

Even after this verification, only fully vaccinated customers are allowed to remove masks indoors, despite the fact that vaccinated people can still catch and transmit the virus. Unvaccinated customers should continue to wear masks indoors, even after showing proof of a negative COVID test, unless actively eating or drinking.

The same basic rules will apply to workers in indoor establishments.

The change follows growing pressure from two members of the county board of supervisors for a relaxation of the mask mandate to more closely align with the state, which dropped its indoor mask mandate last week.

Los Angeles County, however, has kept its mandate in place, setting parameters for ending the requirement that likely won’t be met until the end of March.

The indoor mask mandate is changing in LA County. Lauren Coronado reports for NBC4 News on Tuesday, February 22, 2022.

Supervisor Kathryn Barger has been pushing for the county to align with the state, saying the conflicting demands are leading to apathy and lax compliance among residents. Supervisor Janice Hahn joined Barger on that call last week, pointing to Super Bowl LVI in Inglewood on Feb. 13 as an example of people willfully ignoring county masking guidelines.

Hahn called Friday’s loosening of the county’s mandate “a step in the right direction.”

“I still think the best and least confusing approach would be to fully align with the State of California, but it’s a welcome step in the right direction as our cases go down and we learn to live with it. this virus,” she said in a statement.

Barger said Tuesday she was “happy to hear” the pending policy change, but said she still wants the county to do more and fully align with the state’s decision to lift the ban. indoor masking requirement for vaccinated individuals.

Long Beach and Pasadena, both of which have their own separate county health departments, relaxed their indoor masking requirements on Saturday — generally in alignment with the state. In these cities, masks will still be mandatory indoors for unvaccinated people. However, companies may allow customers to simply self-certify their vaccination status, without any formal verification process.

Businesses will also have the option to check everyone’s vaccination status or simply require all customers to wear masks.

For now, the remainder of Los Angeles County’s indoor mask mandate remains in effect at establishments that do not verify the vaccination status of guests. Under the current plan, Ferrer said the mandate will remain in effect until:

  • the county’s COVID transmission rate level falls to the “moderate” level as defined by the CDC and remains there for two weeks; WHERE
  • COVID vaccines have been available to residents under age 5 for at least eight weeks; AND
  • no emerging COVID “variants of concern” have been identified that could trigger a further increase in cases.

According to Ferrer, reaching the CDC’s “moderate” level of transmission requires the county to have a seven-day cumulative infection rate of less than 50 per 100,000 population. Ferrer said that should happen by March 16, meaning the indoor mask mandate would be fully lifted by March 30.

Los Angeles County last week lifted its outdoor mask mandate for large event venues, schools and daycares. Masks will continue to be mandatory inside schools under a state requirement that is expected to be reassessed on Monday.

LA Metro reminded passengers on Saturday that they are still required to wear face masks on buses or trains, under a federal mandate that applies to all transit systems. Under federal rules, masks continue to be required inside airports, transit centers, on public transportation, in health care facilities and at homeless shelters, centers long-term care and emergency shelters.

Saturday’s data brought the county’s cumulative totals to 2,793,776 cases and 30,650 deaths since the start of the pandemic.

Figures released Thursday showed 82% of eligible county residents age 5 and older have received at least one dose of the COVID vaccine, while 74% are fully vaccinated and 36% are fully vaccinated and received a booster shot. .

Of the county’s 10.3 million residents, 78% have received at least one dose, 70% are fully immunized and 34% have received a booster shot.

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