Wearing masks provide an additional layer of protections against the COVID virus. (File photo)


What You Need to Know About Omicron Variant BA.5 

Los Angeles County is poised to return to requiring the wearing of indoor masks on Friday, July 29. Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer, Ph.D., MPH, MEd, announced during a recent press conference that if the county remains at the high virus-activity level as defined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for two consecutive weeks, the indoor mask mandate will return.

L.A. County will reach the two-week high virus activity mark on July 28, with the mandate taking effect on Friday absent an immediate decline in COVID numbers. “COVID is still one of the leading causes of death in L.A. County,” Ferrer said.

Ferrer is unapologetic in her belief that mask-wearing remains a meaningful strategy for slowing the spread. Ferrer said she is aware that many will not support returning to required indoor masking; however, she believes that others will understand and keep wearing masks as an additional layer of safety.

According to the Los Angeles Department of Public Health, two million unvaccinated persons reside in Los Angeles County. This number remains high despite the availability of free vaccinations and the presence of variants and subvariants of the virus that causes COVID.

Public health officials want it known that variants of COVID are here to stay, at least for the foreseeable future. While many variants disappear, others persist, like BA.5, a subvariant of Omicron.


The indoor mask mandate aims to slow the spread of COVID. (Shutterstock)

On the scale of if BA.5 is severe, the short answer is yes. BA.5 is “highly contagious and transmissible.” BA.5 is a potent reminder that COVID-19 is still here and is reinfecting those who have had COVID previously.

The symptoms of the subvariant BA.5 are the same as those of COVID:  Fever, runny nose, headaches, coughing, sore throat, muscle pain, and fatigue. The best prevention against BA.5 is to get vaccinated and boosted and wear a mask when in public spaces.

Vaccinations are available to anyone 12 years or older living or working in LA County. All county vaccination sites offer free vaccinations, testing, and treatment. Visit VaccinateLACounty.com for vaccination site information.

As of July 23, 2022, here are the numbers in LA County:

6,914 New COVID cases ( 3,268,588 cases to date).

20 new deaths due to COVID-19 (32,637 deaths to date)

1,200 people are currently hospitalized with COVID-19

Blacks (# of COVID cases): 156,977 to date

Blacks (# of Deaths due to COVID):  2,881 to date



City of Compton: 36,131 cases; 334 deaths to date

City of Inglewood:  33,089 cases: 393 deaths to date

Los Angeles Baldwin Hills:  8,799 cases; 114 deaths to date

Los Angeles Crenshaw District: 3,355 cases; 53 deaths to da

Los Angeles Exposition Park:  16,022 cases; 107 deaths to date

Los Angeles Leimert Park:  4,973 cases; 32 deaths to date

Los Angeles Watts:  17,425 cases; 139 deaths to date

Los Angeles West Adams: 9,689 cases; 178 deaths to date

Unincorporated Ladera Heights:  1,611 cases; 19 deaths to date

It remains true that outdoor air is safer than indoor spaces; however, the closer people are together in outdoor areas, the higher the risk of catching the virus. If you plan to attend large gatherings, the CDC recommends testing before and three to five days after the gathering to track your status.

For more information, visit http://www.publichealth.laconty.gov.