PUBLIC HEALTH RELEASE
The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health (Public Health) reports case rates have been increasing most rapidly among children 5 to 11, who are not eligible for vaccination. Between August 14 and August 21, the case rate increased 50% among children 5 to 11, while the rate increased 13% in children 0 to 4 years old, and 24% in children 12 to 17 years old. Over the last week, as the case rate dropped 2-4% in the oldest and youngest age groups, the rate continued to rise 9% among 5 to 11 year olds. With increased numbers of children not yet vaccinated heading back to schools, layered protections are essential.
Between August 15 and August 21, among the 12 to 17-year-old teens who are eligible for vaccine, unvaccinated teens had 8 times the risk of infection than those teens vaccinated, with 480 cases among every 100,000 unvaccinated children in this age group compared with 57 cases among 100,000 of those vaccinated. Among groups ineligible for vaccination, the case rate was 132 per 100,000 children aged 0 to 4, and 293 per 100,000 children aged 5 to 11.
As of August 29, 60% of L.A. County residents 12 to 15 years old have received at least one dose of vaccine, and 48% were fully vaccinated. Sixty-eight percent of teens 16 to 17 years old have received at least one dose of vaccine, and 57% were fully vaccinated. The most powerful strategy for keeping schools open is increasing vaccination numbers as fast as possible. If all eligible children and staff at schools were vaccinated, we would dramatically reduce transmission both in school settings and in after-school sports programs and extracurricular activities.
In K-12 school settings countywide, between August 15 and August 29, 5,207 student cases and 729 staff cases were reported, with the vast majority occurring at LAUSD, which tests everyone weekly.
Most school sites with cases, 849 in all, reported only one case. However, 193 LAUSD and 105 other school sites reported two cases, and 621 LAUSD and 94 other school sites reported three or more cases. Every case identified at a school needs to isolate at home away from others for 10 days from their symptom onset or test date. Their close contacts are identified and, if unvaccinated, they are required to quarantine.
An outbreak is when three or more cases with probable transmission occur at schools or school activities. There are many instances at schools where there are more than three cases, but the cases are not linked to each other, and therefore not counted as an outbreak. It is worth noting that of the 17 school outbreaks that opened in August, 47% were associated with school sports. Team athletic activities have some features that make them particularly challenging settings in which to control transmission.
There are approaches that help reduce school transmission, and while every school can’t always employ all the best practices, most schools can implement many of the recommended strategies, which include masking, distancing, source and infection control, maximizing airflow and ventilating indoor space, setting up systems to support case identification and contact tracing, and messaging and information-sharing.
Wednesday, Public Health confirms 38 new deaths and 2,277 new cases of COVID-19. Of the 38 new deaths reported, four people who passed away were over the age of 80, 13 people who died were between the ages of 65 and 79, 12 people who died were between the ages of 50 and 64, and seven people who died were between the ages of 30 and 49. Two deaths were reported by the City of Long Beach. To date, Public Health identified 1,409,545 positive cases of COVID-19 across all areas of L.A. County and a total of 25,322 deaths.
There are 1,699 people with COVID-19 currently hospitalized and 26% of these people are in the ICU. Testing results are available for more than 8,141,000 individuals with 16% of people testing positive. Wednesday’s test positivity rate is 2.7%.
“Our deepest condolences go out to everyone who has lost a friend or loved one to COVID-19” said Barbara Ferrer, PhD, MPH, MEd, Director of Public Health. “Preventing COVID-19 transmission in schools requires layering a variety of protections that we can all work on together, and many of these strategies are important to do both at school and also when not at school. Getting eligible children and staff vaccinated is the most critical step in reducing risk; the more individuals that are vaccinated at schools and in our homes, the greater the protection for those not yet eligible for vaccines. Keeping sick children and those who need to quarantine at home is also a key component of prevention and requires that all of us have a plan for emergency childcare should one or more of our children need to remain home. Please participate in routine screening testing where it is available, and if you or your child ends up being a close contact of a confirmed case, participate in contact tracing, and follow Public Health isolation and quarantine orders. And, as always, it is important to mask up: masks do work to keep both students and teachers safe at school.”
Teens 12 and over can receive Pfizer vaccine at any County and city sites without an appointment. Many school districts and individual schools are also offering vaccinations over the next few weeks.
Vaccinations are always free and open to eligible residents and workers regardless of immigration status. Visit: www.VaccinateLACounty.com (English) and www.VacunateLosAngeles.com (Spanish) to find a vaccination site near you, make an appointment at vaccination sites, and much more. If you don’t have internet access, can’t use a computer, or you’re over 65, you can call 1-833-540-0473 for help finding an appointment, connecting to free transportation to and from a vaccination site, or scheduling a home-visit if you are homebound.
COVID-19 Sector Protocols, Best Practices, COVID-19 Vaccine Dashboard, COVID-19 Surveillance Interactive Dashboard, Recovery Dashboard, and additional actions you can take to protect yourself, your family and your community are on the Public Health website, www.publichealth.lacounty.gov.