In spite of racking up some of the highest vaccination numbers in the U.S., Los Angeles County and California at large are in the firm grip of the Delta variant. Numbers released by the County’s Department of Public Health (DPH) showed that a 7% rise in new infection cases took place in the county from the week of July 2-August 1 to that of August 2-8. California, barring LA County, recorded a worrying 20% increase during the same time period.
“Thankfully, we are now seeing a slowing down in the increase of cases. Since LA County was the first county in the state to reinstate masking, it is valuable to compare trends in LA County with those in the rest of the state,” said the department in their newsletter.
The Department often hosts virtual town halls to discuss the impact of COVID-19 in California. At one such gathering on August 11, Dr. Frank Alvarez, DPH’s Chief Physician II, attributed the infection rate spikes to renewed summer gatherings and the recent return to work and school. “A worksite outbreak is defined as three or more COVID-19 cases within a 14-day period at a workplace,” he informed. He urged employees to report such situations to DPH for them to log into their system for tracking and investigation in order to reflect accurate data about the spread of the disease. Reports can be made online at www.redcap.link/covidreport or by calling 888-397-3993.
Dr. Nava Yeganeh, another physician at DPH, highlighted authorities’s intention to continue using a “layered strategy”. In their newsletter, DPH outlined their back-to-school protocols.
- Face coverings will continue to be required indoors for everyone regardless of vaccination status, including during indoor PE classes, unless a person is alone in a room.
- Students who are exempt from mask wearing because of a documented disability or other condition should not be excluded from in-person education, and appropriate accommodations should be made on a case by case basis. Students who are excluded from campus because they elect not to wear a face covering should be offered alternative educational opportunities.
- DPH continues to recommend physical distancing as long as it does not interfere with full-time attendance for all students, and infection control remains essential.
- Many schools have established routine testing programs to provide an additional layer of protection.
- All unvaccinated students and staff should be included in routine testing and where resources are sufficient, fully vaccinated individuals should also be included.
- Every school will have a plan on how
- to manage cases and outbreaks and will notify the public health department whenever there are cases. All positive cases are required to isolate, and all close contacts of each case should be tested and are required to quarantine unless they are fully vaccinated and without any symptoms.
As for steps families and children can take, Dr. Yeganeh underscored the power of vaccines. “Protecting your child is a group effort….If you have a child who is vaccine-eligible, they should get vaccinated. They are the most powerful tools we have,” she said. DPH recommendations also include these points.
- Talk to your kids about hand hygiene and appropriately wearing their mask. Also, it’s a good idea to send your child to school with extra face coverings so they can easily change masks if theirs gets wet or dirty.
- Ensure you have a strategy for checking daily for symptoms at home, and as best you can, have an emergency childcare plan in place so that if your child becomes ill, they are able to safely stay home from school.
- If any of your children are 12 or older, please let them know about the importance of getting vaccinated and help them get to a vaccine site where they can get the Pfizer vaccine.
Parents can also get involved through the Parent Ambassador Program, where they can learn about COVID-19 and how to keep schools safe.
DPH’s newsletter also alerted Angelenos about in-home vaccinations for communities like the elderly and the disabled who are unable to travel to vaccination sites. In-home innoculation appointments can be booked in two ways:
- Call the DPH Vaccine Call Center 833-540-0473 open daily 8am to 8:30pm, or
- Fill out the online request form: English | Español | 简体中文
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Long Beach residents can apply for in-home vaccination here and Pasadena residents can call the Pasadena Citizen Service Center at 626-744-7311, Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. at 4 p.m.
Sign up for LA County’s COVID-19 updates here. DPH’s latest town hall meeting can be viewed below.