Another 85 COVID-19 deaths were reported by Los Angeles County health officials Friday, amid continued urging for people to continue wearing masks in public places in an effort to limit spread of the virus.
In a statement, Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer said if the county wants to end the winter surge of COVID infections, “we’ll need to continue the common-sense protective measures that we know can slow COVID-19 transmission.”
“These include wearing a mask when around others until transmission is lower; testing, if possible, before gathering with others, especially if you’re gathering with people at high risk, including unvaccinated, or indoors or in a crowded outdoor place where masks are not always worn, and after being exposed to a positive case; staying home and away from others if you are sick or test positive; and getting vaccinated and boosted if you’re not already up to date,” she said.
Her comments came at the end of a week that saw questions raised about the effectiveness of the county’s mask-wearing mandate, prompted by photos of football fans at SoFi Stadium largely ignoring the requirement.
County Supervisor Kathryn Barger said the lax adherence to the mandate should lead to a reevaluation of whether it should remain in effect. But Board of Supervisors Chair Holly Mitchell said the rule will stay in place until transmission rates fall to a safer level.
Ferrer on Thursday unveiled metrics for a possible relaxing of masking orders, saying the mandate will be dropped at outdoor “mega-events” and outdoors at schools and child-care centers if COVID-positive hospitalizations in the county fall below 2,500 for seven consecutive days.
According to state figures, there were 3,233 COVID-positive patients in county hospitals as of Friday, with 652 of them being treated in intensive care. Those numbers are down from 3,398 patients and 670 in ICU on Thursday.
The county reported another 85 COVID-related deaths on Friday, bringing the overall death toll to 29,280. Another 15,427 new infections were also confirmed, although about 6,800 of them were attributed to a backlog in testing results from a single lab. The new cases gave the county a pandemic total of 2,710,362.
The rolling average daily rate of people testing positive for the virus continued to fall, reaching 6.9% as of Friday, down from 7.9% on Thursday.
As of Thursday, Ferrer said 82% of eligible county residents aged 5 and older have received at least one dose of vaccine, while 73% are fully vaccinated and 34% are vaccinated and boosted. Among all 10.3 million residents, 77% have at least one dose, 69% are fully vaccinated and 32% are vaccinated with a booster shot.
Figures showed that children between 5 and 11 still have the lowest vaccine rates, with just 32% having received one dose and 23% fully vaccinated.
Ferrer noted that during the month of January, children aged 5 to 11 represented 15% of all COVID cases in the county, despite making up just 9% of the population. Teens aged 12 to 17 accounted for 13% of all cases, while representing just 7% of the population.
“Children do get infected with COVID-19,” she said.