Los Angeles County officially escaped the federal government’s “high” Covid activity category today, advancing to the “medium” level thanks to the falling rate of new virus-related hospital admissions.

The county moved into the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s high category in mid-July when the average daily rate of people being admitted to hospitals for COVID reasons topped 10 per 100,000 residents. The county lingered in the high category for several weeks, raising the possibility of health officials re-imposing an indoor mask-wearing mandate. The county ultimately opted against the move, citing steady improvements in new case and hospitalization numbers.

Los Angeles County Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer originally anticipated that the county would move back into the “medium” virus-activity category last week, but the average daily hospitalization rate remained at 10.1
per 100,000 residents in last week’s CDC update.

That changed on Thursday, when updated CDC numbers put the county’s hospitalization rate at 9.9 per 100,000 residents, just enough to move back into the “medium” category.

The move from high to medium will not have any practical effect for residents, since the county already opted against re-imposing the mandatory indoor mask-wearing mandate. If, however, the numbers had gone back up, L.A. may have reevaluated the mask mandate. Moving to medium means that consideration is at least three weeks away should numbers rise.

Masks are still required in some settings, including health care facilities, homeless shelters, aboard transit vehicles and at transit centers, along with correctional facilities.

According to state figures, there were 1,098 COVID-positive patients in county hospitals as of Thursday, down from 1,105 on Wednesday. That’s down about 8% over a week ago. Of those patients, 125 were being treated in intensive care units, up slightly from 122 on Wednesday.

On Thursday, the county reported another 4,345 cases. Another 15 virus-related fatalities were reported, raising the overall death toll to
32,903.

The seven-day daily rate of people testing positive for the virus was 12.3% as of Thursday. That’s a huge drop from its peak of about 17%, but only a slight drop from the 12.6% test positivity rate recorded a week ago.

City News Service contributed to this report.

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