Malibu City Hall began requiring the use of face masks this week amid a cluster of COVID-19 infections among staff and a spike in cases throughout Los Angeles County.
On Friday, the L.A. County Department of Public Health informed Malibu that “due to the recent surge in COVID-19 cases in the county and the resulting positive cases among City Hall staff, face masks are required inside City Hall.”
Malibu City Hall, which has about 85 employees, recorded four positive cases between June 14 and June 27, Malibu media information officer Matt Myerhoff said in a statement to The Times.
“All of the cases were contracted outside of City Hall and were not transmitted among staff inside City Hall,” Myerhoff said.
The “worksite case cluster” — a group of three or more infections within a two-week period — triggers enhanced health and safety protocols, including indoor masking, as required by the county and the state’s Division of Occupational Safety and Health.
L.A. County Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer said employers “must implement indoor masking for the entire exposed group of workers. And they need to keep an indoor masking policy until at least 14 days after the last workplace case.”
L.A. County recorded 301 worksite clusters a week ago, up from 251 the week prior, Ferrer said.
Malibu City Hall’s mask mandate expired in March, when COVID restrictions were loosened throughout the county.
The county still requires masks on public transportation, at indoor transportation hubs like airports, in health and long-term care facilities, at correctional facilities and at shelters and cooling centers. The county “strongly recommends” masks at most other public indoor places.
Since March, COVID has become resurgent, with more contagious variants. Public health officials are sounding the alarm.
“All workplaces should implement sensible safety precautions at this point,” Ferrer told reporters last week.
Ferrer said the increase in worksite clusters is due to a combination of factors, including fewer masks used by both employees and customers, increased indoor activities and employees attending work with COVID symptoms.
The worksite clusters coincide with an overall COVID-19 surge in L.A. County that could lead to more mask mandates and other measures.
The county remains at the “medium” COVID-19 community level, as defined by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
New subvariants of Omicron could lead to increased transmission and hospitalizations, moving the county into the “high” level “sometime later this summer,” the Public Health Department said.
Last week, there were 8.1 new coronavirus-positive hospital admissions per 100,000 people, an increase of 56% from the month before, the department said.
If the seven-day total tops 10 new admissions per 100,000 people, and more than 10% of hospital beds are occupied by COVID-19 patients, L.A. County will enter the high community level.
If the county moves into the high level and remains there for two consecutive weeks, it will “implement a universal indoor masking requirement for everyone age 2 and older … as a safety measure aligned with the CDC framework,” the department said.
The safety measures would remain in place until the county returns to the medium level and remains there for two weeks.
Across the state, two-thirds of counties are in the high community level.