Los Angeles County Public Health officials reported Wednesday that the county’s COVID-19 test positivity rate is dropping among students and school staff.
Most schools in the county are open for in-person learning, and Public Health data showed test positivity rates dropped. In contrast, the number of schools reporting cases increased sharply, coinciding with the reopening of L.A. Unified School District campuses.
From Jan. 9 to Jan. 15, 1,032 K-12 schools reported positive cases, representing a 55% increase since the first week of December, when 665 schools reported positive cases, according to the Public Health Department.
Additionally, there were almost 595,000 tests administered to students and staff at schools. Only 11% were positive, a 4% decrease compared to the week before.
A high school and two elementary schools were identified as having an outbreak last week, and more than 65,000 students and staff tested positive. Department of Public Health officials said this represents high rates of community transmission.
More than 140 school-based vaccine clinics are scheduled this week, and nearly 500 school-based vaccine clinics are scheduled in February. The vaccine clinics offer pediatric doses for students from 5 to 11 years old. Additionally, the clinics will offer boosters for eligible students 12 and older.
“As a reminder, vaccines continue to provide the best protection against illness and hospitalizations and are the safest way to keep kids in school and other activities,” officials said in a statement released Wednesday.
The L.A. County Office of Education is increasing testing capacity to manage potential school exposures while supporting in-person learning for as many students as possible. Additionally, all infected students and staff are required to isolate at home for a minimum of five days.
Asymptomatic students and staff who test negative on day 5 of their isolation period may return to school on or after day 6. Returning students and staff must remain asymptomatic and wear a high-grade mask when around others.
Additionally, the Public Health Department advises wearing masks when indoors and outdoors until 10 days have passed from a positive test or the day symptoms began.
“Keeping our schools available for in-person learning during this Omicron-fueled surge is not easy and I commend our school communities for all the work they are doing to keep children and staff safe,” Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer said in a prepared statement. “This is particularly challenging in our elementary schools where, on average, three-quarters of students are not fully vaccinated, making it critically important to use infection control practices to limit spread of a highly infectious variant.”
Additionally, Ferrer said that everyone at schools must commit together to comply with health measures fully. She advised frequent testing can help asymptomatic individuals before transmitting the virus to others.
“Without everyone working together to minimize exposures, there could be more disruptions affecting school communities across the county,” Ferrer said.
All COVID-19 services are free to L.A. County residents and can be accessed by anyone regardless of insurance or immigration status. To find a COVID-19 vaccine site near you, visit VaccinateLACounty.com, or to find a testing site, visit covid19.lacounty.gov/testing.
Public Health officials also released the following updated COVID-19 statistics Wednesday:
Countywide COVID-19 cases reported in the past 24 hours: 30,081
Total COVID-19 cases in L.A. County: 2,343,821
New deaths related to COVID-19 reported in the past 24 hours: 59
Total COVID-19 deaths in L.A. County: 28,181
Hospitalizations countywide: 4,799, as of Jan. 19
Hospitalizations at Henry Mayo Newhall Hospital as of Jan. 18: 98, with 1,887 discharged since the onset of the pandemic.
COVID-19 cases reported in the Santa Clarita Valley in the past 24 hours: 602, 446 of which came from the city of Santa Clarita
Total COVID-19 cases in the SCV: 61,416
Total COVID-19 deaths in the SCV as of Jan. 19: 383
Percentage of vaccinated people (at least one dose) in the city of Santa Clarita as of Jan. 6: 79.6%
Percentage of vaccinated people (at least one dose) in the SCV as of Dec. 23: 75.1%
To find a COVID-19 vaccine site near you, visit VaccinateLACounty.com, or to find a testing site, visit covid19.lacounty.gov/testing.