Is LA County's Indoor Mask Mandate Going to Come Back? At This Rate, It Might

We've been here before: The decision to require indoor masking hinges on the number of hospitalizations and case rates per 100,000 residents, and with cases, hospitalizations and deaths on the rise, it might be time to dig up those N95s.

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Coronavirus is spreading rapidly again, with cases, hospitalizations and deaths going up every day. That means Los Angeles could reinstate the indoor mask policy within weeks.

Residents of LA County were warned that the return of COVID-19-related restrictions could be a possibility. Now, officials from the Department of Public Health are saying it's time to pull the masks out of storage -- we might need them soon.

The county is on track to bring back the indoor mask mandates depending on what happens next with the two omicron subvariants of COVID-19 currently wreaking havoc: omicron BA.4 and omicron BA.5.

The two subvariants are highly contagious, and spreading quickly.

The decision to require indoor masking hinges on the number of hospitalizations and case rates per 100,000 residents.

If that number remains elevated for two weeks, indoor masking could be required in LA county by July 29.

"Now, given that we have a lot more BA.4 and BA.5 circulating, that's really sort of making it much harder to actually slow spread," said Barbara Ferrer, director of LA County Public Health.

Every shopper NBC4 spoke with outside one Burbank grocery store was aware of the possibility of LA county reinstating the mask mandate. But each shopper had a different opinion about the change.

Could LA County be heading back to mask mandates? Public health officials say if the current trends continue, we could be back to indoor masking by the end of the month. Anoushah Rasta reports for the NBC4 News at 11 p.m. on July 7, 2022.

"I think that everybody has a responsibility to do whatever it takes to keep people from dying," said Burbank resident Barbara Williams, grocery shopping with her two grandchildren. "And if that means wearing a mask indoors again for a while until more people get vaccinated or we have herd immunity, then that’s what we need to do."

Brittany Newell, an entrepreneur, was less tranquil about the prospect of masks returning.

"Masks are annoying," she said. But she too sees why they may be necessary.

"To be honest with you, I didn’t know that much people that had COVID in the past, and in — I’ll say June— I know a lot of people that ended up getting it, so because of that, that’s why I’m not really opposed to it."

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