COVID cases on the rise, mandates highly unlikely 

The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health Logo
The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health Logo, courtesy of Facebook

COVID-19 levels are nowhere near where they were during the pandemic, or even earlier this year, but they have increased recently and there are a few reasons why.  

Over 500 cases were reported this week after a “relatively calm summer,” according to the Los Angeles County Public Health Department. It’s believed that the spike is attributable to summer travel, a return to schools and the emergence of new strains — including the new Omicron XBB EG.5 sub-variants. 

Numbers of cases, deaths and hospitalizations are at record lows — daily case rates haven’t been lower since March 2020. However, Public Health is still advising those who are immunocompromised, work in a skilled nursing facility or are visiting someone in a nursing facility to take precautions.  

“Those that provide services to individuals at higher risk of severe illness from COVID are also asked to take sensible steps to prevent transmission of COVID-19; this includes staying home and away from others if sick, testing before gathering indoors, and wearing a mask if providing patient care,” read a news release from the Health Department.  

Outbreaks at skilled nursing facilities increased to 39, up from 20 the week prior. Schools are also at risk of outbreaks as everyone returns to being in large groups while indoors. Children may not exhibit symptoms from COVID-19, but family members and school staff may be at higher risk of developing symptoms. 

Parents and guardians are urged to keep sick children home if they show a fever, bad cough, fatigue or a sore throat. Testing is also recommended, even if symptoms aren’t apparent. 

An updated vaccine is set to be released next month ahead of the fall cold and flu season. The vaccine is said to target Omicron XBB and its descendants — which accounts for 98% of circulated strains. The last updated vaccine included protection against BA.2.86, which Public Health has not detected recently.    

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