San Diego, Orange, Ventura and Santa Barbara counties have entered the medium COVID-19 community level, as case rates worsen across California.
Coronavirus case rates are climbing enough such that the number of California counties in the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s medium COVID-19 community level doubled on Thursday. The medium COVID-19 community level is the middle level of the CDC’s three-level system for evaluating COVID-19 risk, tied to case rates and hospitalization levels.
Nineteen California counties were moved from the low to medium COVID-19 community level Thursday.
Officials said the mask order was needed to avoid disrupting in-person learning and campus activities, including graduation.
Southern California counties that were moved from the low to medium community level were San Diego, Orange, Ventura, Santa Barbara, San Luis Obispo, Imperial and Inyo counties.
In the greater Central Valley, Sacramento, San Joaquin, Placer, Merced, Madera, Yuba, San Benito, Tuolumne and Mariposa counties entered the medium community level. And elsewhere in Northern California, Monterey, Napa and Plumas counties went into the medium level.
Los Angeles County and the rest of the San Francisco Bay Area were already in the medium level prior to this week.
Masks may not be required in many places but they’re still encouraged, officials say, as new COVID cases continue to climb.
According to CDC data, 33 of California’s 58 counties are now in the CDC’s medium COVID-19 community level, accounting for 78% of the state’s population.
By contrast, the previous week, there were only 14 counties in the medium COVID-19 community level, accounting for less than half of the state’s population.
Overall, coronavirus cases are still on the rise in L.A. County. During the weeklong period that ended Thursday, the county reported an average of more than 4,200 new cases a day — a rate of 293 new infections per 100,000 residents.
Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside and San Bernardino counties have all seen upticks in coronavirus case rates.
A rate of 100 or more is considered a high rate of transmission.
Officials also say these case numbers are an undercount, as many residents are now self-diagnosing using over-the-counter tests, the results of which are not reliably reported.