LA County reports 2,907 coronavirus cases, 30 deaths on Tuesday

As Los Angeles County reported 2,907 coronavirus cases and 30 deaths on Tuesday, Aug. 17, a new mask requirement at “mega events” including concerts and major sports events provided a sobering reminder that the region remains at “widespread” risk for more infections fueled by the unpredictable delta variant.

Under the new masking requirement, issued in a revised L.A. County Public Health Order on Tuesday that will launch at 11:59 p.m. Thursday, masks are “required to be worn by everyone at all times except when actively eating or drinking” at big outdoor with crowds greater than 10,000. So, if you’re at a music or food festival, a car show, a pro sports event, a parade or big concerts, don your face covering.

Put another way: Mask up, the county says, if you’re at a Dodger Stadium, Rams/Chargers games at SoFi Stadium, LAFC games at Banc of California Stadium and LA Galaxy Games at Dignity Health Sports Park. Concert-goers at the Hollywood Bowl: Same deal.

Fueling the revised order has been the trajectory of the delta variant of the virus, which now makes up most of the cases in the county — and the nation. It has proven particularly contagious among people who have not been immunized.

“To reduce the spread of COVID-19 and the Delta variant, universal masking is now required at all outdoor mega events where thousands of people from many different communities are crowded together, often for extended periods of time,” Public Health Chief Barbara Ferrer said in a news release. “The most sensible way to add protection is to please keep your mask on when in indoor public places or worksites and at outdoor mega events when not eating or drinking.”

Ferrer and other public officials note that while people who are not fully immunized are more at risk of spreading and catching the virus, another driving factor is that people who are immunized can also spread and catch it, though at much lower volumes.

Meanwhile, officials said infections continued their daily post-July 4 climb.

The newly confirmed deaths and cases brought those totals to 24,935 and 1,355,698, respectively.

Hospitalizations continued to rise  as well — to 1,754, with 397 patients in intensive care.

Inspectors are finding relatively good compliance with local health orders, but county officials remained concerned about some hot spots.

Between Aug. 7 and Aug. 13, the most common violation found among malls, gyms, hotels, bars, restaurants, retail stores, garment manufacturers and food plants were:

–Employers failing to provide their employees with masks;

–People not wearing masks in indoor public sites; and s

–Businesses not posting signage instructing customers to wear a face mask.

The issues are prompting new ideas about how to encourage more compliance.

The city of Pasadena could soon craft a new grading system to highlight restaurants that are implementing the best practices to combat the spread of the virus.

“Since July 1, the seven-day average number of daily new cases in Pasadena has increased by over 638% (and is) now at 31 new cases per day,” Dr. Ying-Ying Goh, Pasadena’s chief medical officer, told the Pasadena City Council on Monday, Aug. 16.

Pasadena Mayor Victor Gordo suggested the idea of promoting responsible restaurants during a discussion with Goh, and it received a favorable response from his peers on the Pasadena City Council.

Such a concept would allow the city to encourage and incentivize businesses to vaccinate and test their employees without a mandate, Gordo said. In a separate interview, he said he hopes to start the program with area restaurants and then expand to City Hall and such places as gyms and offices throughout the Pasadena.

Also on the horizon: Health officials will watch to see how a countywide return to school will play out.

Baseline screening before the return of students to campuses around the Los Angeles Unified School District revealed more than 3,600 positive coronavirus cases, officials said on Tuesday, Aug. 17.

The screening occurred during the two weeks ahead of Monday’s opening of in-person classes, testing just more than 81% of the district’s students — who along with staff are now required to be tested each week, regardless of vaccination status. District employees must be fully vaccinated by Oct. 15. The number was relatively small compared the district’s massive student population.

Meanwhile, the L.A. City Council on Wednesday, Aug. 18, will consider requiring COVID-19 vaccinations for all city employees except for those who have medical or religious exemptions.

Mayor Eric Garcetti and Council President Nury Martinez announced on July 27 that city employees would be required to show proof of COVID-19 vaccination or a weekly negative COVID-19 test, but under the proposed ordinance, “only those with a medical or religious exemption and who are required to regularly report to a work location are eligible for weekly testing.”

If the ordinance is adopted, non-exempt employees must receive their first dose of the Moderna or Pfizer two-dose vaccine no later than Sept. 7, and their second dose no later than Oct. 5. Employees who choose to receive the single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine would have to be inoculated by Oct. 5.

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