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Los Angeles County officials are advising essential workers to wear masks at home to avoid further spread of Covid-19

Updated 4:49 AM ET, Tue January 12, 2021

(CNN) - Things are so bad in Los Angeles County that health officials are now advising all essential workers to wear masks inside their own home to prevent spreading Covid-19 within their household.

"Right now, because there is so much spread, we're recommending that people wear their face coverings while they're inside the home," Los Angeles County Director of Public Health Barbara Ferrer said in a news conference Monday. That's for people who are either leaving their home every day for work or who are running errands regularly for their family, Ferrer said.

Doing so, she said, "will add a layer of protection while we get through this surge."

For the county, that surge has been long and brutal. Every minute, an average of 10 people test positive for the virus, county health officials said Monday. More than 932,600 people have tested positive in the county throughout the pandemic.

There are more than 7,900 Covid-19 patients hospitalized countywide -- 22% of whom are in intensive care units. In just two months, the county has seen an increase of more than 1,000% in its average hospitalizations -- a grim jump that has pushed hospitals to their breaking point.

And last week, the county said a person was dying of Covid-19 every eight minutes. A total of more than 12,300 people have died, county health officials said.

"The damaging impact to our families and our local hospitals from this surge is the worst disaster our county has experienced in decades," health officials said Monday. "And, as with other terrifying situations, the end of the surge only happens when more people and businesses take control and do the right thing."

As Los Angeles approaches the one-year mark of its first known positive case of Covid-19, the numerous citations and business closures where large outbreaks have occurred have been insufficient because appropriate action is not being taken on an individual level as many residents are "failing to protect each other," Ferrer said.

"Now is not the time to meet with friends at your home to watch the game," Ferrer said in a statement. "It is not the time to go for a walk without a mask."

"All it takes is one mistake and soon, five, 10 or 20 other people become infected -- many of whom could be your friends, family members, or colleagues."


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