LADPH threatens new indoor mask mandate if transmission doesn't slow even as they administer booster shots that increase transmission
July 8, 2022 - Los Angeles County has been living under the threat of a new indoor mask mandate for weeks now as Covid-19 cases, driven by various Omicron subvariants, bring more Covid patients to area hospitals. Once there are over 10 Covid patients per 100,000 residents in the hospital, the county is deemed by Centers for Disease Control guidance to be in a High transmission level. A patient is a Covid patient if they test positive for Covid, whether they suffer from the disease or not. If the high level of Covid-positive patients lasts for two weeks, masks will again be required in public indoor spaces. This is by order of the local county health department - it is not a federal law.
The imposition of masks is supposed to retard transmission, according to health department officials, who have repeated this mantra consistently, including by Barbara Ferrer, PhD, MPH, MEd, Director of Public Health at her media briefing yesterday. But the only evidence these officials have that masks are effective at preventing transmission are some laboratory experiments and a few test cases that happen to align with the hypothesis. Ignored are test cases that do not align with the hypothesis.
But according to LADPH's own data, the most proven way to reduce transmission is to stop administering Covid-19 vaccine booster shots. Over the 30 days ending June 23, 2022, there were more Covid infections among the boosted than among the single-series-vaccinated in all age groups. For ages 18-64, the situation was even worse. The rate of infections among the boosted was twice that of the single-series vaccinated. For ages 18-49, the rate of infection among the boosted approached that of the rate in the unvaccinated.
Meanwhile, the rate of death between the single-series vaccinated and the boosted is so small that it is not recorded on LADPH website. The difference in rate of hospitalizations between the single-series vaccinated and the boosted is only moderately significant in those over 65 years old, with 81 hospitalizations per 100k residents for the single-series vaccinated compared to only 52.2 hospitalizations for the boosted. (It is also important to remember that hospitalizations are related to a Covid-positive test and not to the reason for the hospitalization. Currently, only 40% of "Covid" hospitalizations are truly for Covid-associated disease.) The bottom line is that there is no clear benefit to boosters regarding hospitalizations and death.
It is unclear if reducing transmission of a disease that is closely approaching the case fatality rate of the seasonal flu is even a worthy goal. Each successive mutation of the virus is less deadly than the last. But if that is the goal, then it does not make sense to administer a shot that appears to increase transmission of the disease while doing almost nothing to mitigate death and hospitalization.