As Los Angeles County faces a very likely indoor mask mandate toward the end of July, many may be wondering where that leaves Orange County and its plans as COVID cases tick up.
LA County moved Thursday into the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's "high'' virus-activity level, and if it remains that way for two weeks, indoor masking is coming back July 29. The indoor mask mandate will remain in effect until the county can move back to the "medium" category, LA County's Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer said.
Orange County already hit the "high" level July 15. You can check the county's status on the CDC's site here.
However, the OC Health Care Agency said indoor masking requirements were not yet on the horizon, in a statement to NBCLA July 15.
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"The HCA continues to monitor the data closely, but HCA has no plans to institute a mandatory mask mandate. That doesn’t mean we aren’t concerned, and we continue to strongly recommend that people mask when attending indoor gatherings, as we know they are a very effective means to prevent the spread," said Dr. Matt Zahn, M.D., Deputy Health Director, Medical Director of Communicable Disease Control Division.
"We certainly have seen an increase in cases, but with two+ years into the pandemic, we have more preventive measures to take now that we didn’t have in the past. We have safe, effective vaccines and boosters, and now we have treatments. For those at the highest risk, there antiviral treatments available to prevent serious illness."
Despite this, the UC Irvine campus instituted the indoor mask rule Monday.
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"It's more of the same,'' Andrew Noymer, an epidemiologist and UC Irvine professor of population health and disease prevention, told City News Service on Friday. "What struck me is we passed 18% positivity. ... We're in a wave of COVID.''
"People keep saying it's not as deadly anymore,'' Noymer said. But Noymer pointed to the number of deaths so far in July and said, "That's a lot of deaths for a respiratory virus in the summertime.''