February 28, 2024 The Newspaper Serving LGBT Los Angeles

Amid Soaring COVID-19 Cases, Los Angeles County Urges Vigilance During Festive Season

Rising Transmission Rates Prompt Public Health Concerns and Call for Caution

By Dolores Quintana

As schools break for the holidays and festive gatherings commence, the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health (Public Health) emphasizes the need for caution to prevent the spread of COVID-19. The county has observed a surge in cases, prompting concern and the initiation of precautions.

With an average of 495 reported cases daily, marking an 80 percent increase from a month ago, Public Health reports heightened COVID-19 transmission in the county. Wastewater concentrations of SARS-CoV-2 have tripled in the last month, indicating a significant rise in the virus. Hospitalizations and Emergency Department visits related to COVID-19 have also surged.

The increase is partially attributed to the emergence of the JN.1 strain, a descendant of the Omicron lineage. JN.1 accounts for 10 percent of sequenced specimens in Los Angeles County, with a rapid rise since late October. Nationally, the CDC Nowcast estimates JN.1’s presence in more than one in five COVID-19 cases.

Despite the rise, JN.1 does not appear to cause more severe cases. To curb further transmission, residents are urged to practice common-sense precautions, including frequent handwashing, mask-wearing in crowded spaces, and staying home if symptomatic.

Residents are encouraged to stock up on COVID-19 tests and consider testing before gatherings, especially when older or immunocompromised individuals are present to ensure a safer holiday season. Vaccination remains crucial, with flu and COVID-19 vaccines recommended for everyone aged six months and older.

Public Health provides comprehensive resources, including testing locations and vaccination appointments, accessible through the Public Health Call Center at 1-833-540-0473, open seven days a week from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. However, the Call Center will be closed on Dec. 25 and Jan. 1 for the holidays.

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