AMTV/Los Angeles, Sept 1 – To reduce the spread of COVID-19 over the Labor Day weekend, the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health (Public Health) is offering simple steps for people who want to lower their risk of getting infected while celebrating the holiday.
With a rise inCOVID-19 transmission in Los Angeles County, there are many reasons people may want to take extra measures to protect themselves against infection, including if they are older, have a weakened immune system or chronic health condition, want to avoid missing work, school or other activities or are concerned about infecting more vulnerable people around them.
Approaching Labor Day weekend, Los Angeles County is seeing the sixth consecutive week of increased measures of COVID-19 transmission. At gatherings and celebrations, some straightforward steps can help increase safety against COVID-19, including holding events outside when possible, opening windows when gathering indoors for increased ventilation and requesting that people test before getting together.
Public Health also recommends testing when someone has been exposed to COVID-19 or if they have possible symptoms, including a cough, fever, headache or unusual fatigue. To access free COVID-19 testing in Los Angeles County, visit http://publichealth.lacounty.gov/covidtests.
Masking is currently based on individual preference, except when required during outbreaks or by the site. People who are at higher risk of severe illness should consider wearing a high-quality, well-fitting mask when in crowded and/or poorly ventilated indoor spaces. For everyone, masking is strongly recommended on public transit and in health care settings. In addition, people should mask around others for 10 days if they are exposed to COVID-19 or for days 6-10 after an infection if leaving isolation.
Currently, Los Angeles County is reporting a daily average of 521 COVID-positive hospitalizations, just over a 20 percent increase from the week prior and twice as high as what was reported 4 weeks ago. The proportion of emergency department visits attributed to COVID-19 this week is 5.1 percent, an increase from 3.2 percent reported on Aug. 2.
In the past, new variants and sub-variants have often fueled increases in transmission. Los Angeles County continues to regularly sequence local COVID-19 specimens to know what strains are circulating and to prepare if changes will affect the impact of COVID-19.
According to the most recent local sequencing data for the two-week period ending Aug. 5, the most dominant strain in Los Angeles County was EG.5, which accounted for 22 percent of sequenced specimens. This is the first time a strain has accounted for more than 20 percent of sequenced specimens since early July. The next most dominant strain is XBB.1.5, accounting for almost 14% of sequenced specimens.
Because it takes time to sequence positive specimens, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) uses modeling to predict the proportion of strains circulating right now. As of Sept. 1, for the U.S. region that includes California and surrounding states, it is estimated that EG.5 remains dominant and accounts for 29% of current cases.
Anyone infected with COVID-19 should talk to their health care provider about treatment options, such as Paxlovid, as soon as possible. Treatment must begin within five days of the onset of symptoms. To access free telehealth services for treatment, contact the Public Health Call Center, seven days a week from 8 a.m. to 8:30 p.m., at 1-833-540-0473.
Los Angeles County remains in the CDC’s Low Hospital Admission Level with 6.3 weekly COVID-19 hospital admissions per 100,000 people, reported on Aug. 28 for the seven-day period ending Aug. 19, an increase from 5.2 hospital admissions last week.
By: Sandra Tung