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County waits on mask mandate as numbers decline

Los Angeles County remains at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s high community level for COVID-19 transmission, but with new cases slowly declining, officials have yet to decide whether a new indoor mask mandate will be necessary.

Los Angeles County Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer had said a new mask mandate could come as soon as Friday, but as of Wednesday night that order had yet to be issued. Also, support for a renewed mask mandate has softened among medical and public health professionals, according to the Los Angeles Times.

A combination of relatively high vaccination rates in the county and improved medications and therapeutics for treating the disease make this surge very different from previous outbreaks. According to public health, 80% of county residents have received at least one dose of the vaccine, with 72% fully vaccinated. Another 40% received at least one booster.

Over the last seven days, the average number of daily new cases was 6,014, an 11% decrease from one week ago when the average was 6,742. Also, the test positivity rate, which is a key indicator of how widespread the outbreak is, has stabilized at 15.5%.

The number of people who are sick enough to be hospitalized has stabilized as well. Over the last seven days, the average number of COVID positive patients per day in L.A. County hospitals was 1,262, very similar to one week ago when the average was 1,243. That fact is key because the original stay-at-home order in March 2020 was driven by the desire to avoid overcrowding at area hospitals, which could have resulted in the rationing of care.

Deaths, which typically lag hospitalizations by several weeks, continue to increase, with an average of 15 deaths reported per day this past week. On Wednesday the county reported 20 deaths.

In Claremont there have been 322 new infections since the COURIER’s last update on July 7, for a cumulative total of 8,436. Sadly, one more Claremont resident died, bringing the city’s total mortality to 93. Vaccination metrics are virtually unchanged from three weeks ago.

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