Los Angeles County will NOT re-impose a universal indoor mask-wearing mandate, Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer announced on Thursday, citing a continued downward trend in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations.
Ferrer told reporters in an online briefing that the county's average daily number of new COVID cases over the past week was about 5,900 per day, down from 6,750 a week ago. There were 1,239 COVID-positive patients hospitalized as of Thursday, down from 1,329 a week ago.
She also noted that the average daily rate of people testing positive for the virus has been holding mostly steady.
According to Ferrer, new infection numbers have been declining steadily this week, "potentially signaling a downward trend in cases." She said hospitalizations have also begun declining "for the first time since mid-April."
Declines in new cases and hospitalizations will likely also lead to declining virus-related deaths, she said.
Ferrer had previously said that a new indoor masking mandate would be imposed if the county remained in the "high" virus activity level category as defined by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for two weeks. The county entered the "high" category exactly two weeks ago when the average daily rate of new COVID-related hospital admissions rose above 10 per 100,000 residents.
As of Thursday afternoon, the CDC still put the county's rate of COVID hospital admissions at 11.5 per 100,000, Ferrer said, but those figures only took into account numbers through Monday. The county, however, examined the numbers through Wednesday, which put the rate at 9.7 per 100,000 -- enough to move the county back into the "medium" virus activity level.
Ferrer said that figure is "a good reason not to move forward" with an indoor masking mandate, even though it's likely the county will officially remain in the CDC's "high" category for at least another week.
Last week, the CDC moved Riverside County into its "high" category.
County spokesperson Jose Arballo Jr told News Channel 3 that there have been no discussions on bringing back the mask mandate in our county.
"There are no plans to institute mask mandate at this time and it has not been discussed
The numbers have been increasing over the last few months, and it appears some of increase could be from 4th of July holiday, so the level change was not a surprise," Arballo wrote to News Channel 3.