LOS ANGELES — The LA County Department of Public Health is once again strongly recommending the public to mask indoors. The recommendation comes in response to a jump in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations.
It’s a situation many have expected and dreaded… that as the weather grows colder and people move indoors, transmission of COVID-19 rises.
A week ago there were 86 COVID-19 cases per 100,000 people. That rate is now over 100 cases per 100,000 people. This means that if you’re at an event with 200 people, the chance of someone getting infected could be as high as 60%.
But, even with a strong recommendation from health officials, you’re likely not going to see many masks indoors, even as we head into the holidays.
Founding director and CEO of the Lawrence J. Ellison Institute for Transformative Medicine at USC, Dr. David Agus tells “Inside the Issues” host Alex Cohen he doesn’t agree that people should mask indoors because of rising COVID-19 cases.
“The biggest issue we’re seeing now with hospitalizations is influenza, the flu, and RSV,” Dr. Agus said.
Dr. Agus said the rise in COVID-19 cases is concerning and should be dealt with, but he said it’s not the major issue we are seeing at the present time.
It’s the flu and respiratory syncytial virus, or RSV, that is becoming overwhelming this holiday season, and mostly in children.
“Kids have very little immunity, especially because these last couple of years they’ve all been indoors, masked or away from other kids,” Dr. Agus noted.
The lack of immunity makes both the Flu and RSV worrisome. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows weekly RSV cases rose nationwide from just under 6,000 cases in the week of Oct. 1 to over 16,500 the week of Nov. 5.
In California, RSV cases have almost quadrupled from 353 the week of Oct. 1 to over 1,300 the week of Nov. 5.
To keep immunity up, health officials are making sure people are getting their yearly flu shot. But, there’s another vaccination that’s causing concern because of its low numbers: The COVID-19 booster.
Dr. Agus said, “The problem with COVID is it’s all year.”
The flu shot is typically administered once a year, while a bivalent COVID-19 booster can be administered every few months.
So far, only 16% of Californians have received the new COVID-19 booster, but Dr. Agus is encouraging it and said it’s critical to keep immunity up.
Cohen asked Dr. Agus what his personal recommendations were for this holiday and whether or not people should test before seeing loved ones.
“The good is, is that with RSV and Influenza in general, you’re symptomatic when you’re infectious… not 100%, but in general. The problem with COVID is that there is a significant asymptomatic spread.”
He said it’s a “no brainer.”
People should get tested for COVID-19 before holiday outings.
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