ABCNews.com: COVID-19 in Los Angeles—Why Experts Think It May Be Time to Bring Back Masks
ABCNews.com recently interviewed Cedars-Sinai infectious disease specialist Soniya Gandhi, MD, MPH, associate chief medical officer at Cedars-Sinai, about the recent surge in COVID-19 cases in Los Angeles County and whether a mask mandate could be imminent.
Gandhi told ABCNews.com in December that hospitalizations were increasing at Cedars-Sinai as more people contracted not only COVID-19 but also the flu and RSV, creating a “tripledemic.”
“We’re seeing now the other circulating viruses like flu and RSV, which we hadn’t experienced in prior surges,” Gandhi told ABCNews.com. “So, we are starting to see a lot of COVID in the community. We’re starting and have been seeing a lot of flu as well in the community. Our flu positivity rate was as high as 30% last week, which is incredibly high compared to [past] years.”
Multiple factors contributed to the rise in infections, Gandhi said. “We have newer subvariants, namely BQ.1 and BQ.1.1 that are cousins of the prior omicron variant … they’re more infectious, and they’re increasingly prevalent in the community,” she explained to ABCNews.com.
The conditions could lead to another mask mandate in Los Angeles County if, for example, 10% of county hospital beds are filled with COVID-19 patients.
“I think if we continue to trend in the direction where we seem to be going, I think based on the previously outlined criteria, a mask mandate could certainly return and probably would need to be seriously considered,” Gandhi told ABCNews.com. “That being said, I don’t think individuals should wait for a mask mandate to practice common sense.”
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