Health Department advises on possible winter surge

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The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health gave advice Thursday on how to prepare for a possible surge of COVID-19.  

Recent spikes in cases in Europe prompted Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer to advise residents to take necessary precautions this winter.  

“There are specific steps that we can take to protect ourselves, our families, and our communities that can minimize the impact of a surge if one occurs,” said Ferrer. “The simplest and most effective action one can take right now is to get the new bivalent booster.”    

New bivalent vaccines are now available for anyone 12 and older who received at least their “primary COVID-19 vaccine series” at least two months ago. Ages 12-17 are eligible for the Pfizer vaccine only, while those 18 and older can have either Pfizer or Moderna.   

The bivalent vaccines offer protection against the original strain of COVID-19, the omicron variant and the BA.4 and BA.5 subvariants.   

Case rates in L.A. County (950 per day) have gone down 20% in the past week. The decline in hospitalizations (73 per day), however, has plateaued and so have deaths (10 to 11 per day) – including three newly reported pediatric deaths that occurred during last winter’s surge. 

“Although they occurred months ago, we only recently received the final coroner’s report that confirmed these deaths as COVID-associated,” said Ferrer.  

Ferrer noted that one patient was age 4 or under, one was between 5 and 11, and one was between the ages of 12 and 17. The total number of pediatric deaths in L.A. County is now 17. 

“This past Monday was World Mental Health Day and we cannot deny the toll that COVID-19 has had on our well-being. Especially when it comes to living with the loss of loved ones,” said Ferrer. “I give my condolences to the families experiencing pain and grief and extend my wishes for healing and peace.” 

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