LOS ANGELES (CNS) - Los Angeles County health officials urged parents and students to be vigilant as classes resume following spring break to protect against spread of COVID-19, calling on anyone showing signs of illness to stay home and announcing plans for school-based vaccination clinics across the region.
``As schools re-open after the spring break and spring holidays, additional precautions are warranted given the increased circulation of the more infectious BA.2 subvariant in LA County,'' Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer said in a statement. ``Identifying those who are infected early so that they can isolate from others requires continued emphasis on testing. This is especially important at schools and we urge parents to take advantage of school sponsored testing opportunities, including using the antigen test kits sent home before the spring break and allowing their children to participate in routine school-based testing.
``And while masking indoors is not required at most schools, safety at schools is significantly improved if students and staff are wearing high quality, well-fitting masks when indoors. This is particularly important at schools where testing after the spring break indicates significant numbers of infected students and staff.''
Her comments came on the day that one local high school -- Palisades Charter High -- re-instituted an indoor mask-wearing mandate due to a spike in infections following spring break. The school will maintain the requirement through next week, but warned if the testing-positivity rate among students and staff gets too high, it will require masks both indoors and outdoors.
County health officials had been reporting rises in school-based outbreaks in recent weeks, although the numbers fell due to spring break.
With classes back in session, the county plans to operate 171 school-based vaccination clinics this week, offering pediatric doses for those aged 5- 11 and regular doses and boosters for those 12 and older.
The county reported 15 new COVID-19-related deaths on Wednesday, lifting the cumulative death toll to 31,899. Another 1,146 cases were also reported, raising the total from throughout the pandemic to 2,855,687.
The average daily rate of people testing positive for the virus fell slightly, reaching 2.5%, compared to 2.8% on Tuesday.
According to state figures, there were 230 COVID-positive patients in county hospitals as of Wednesday, up slightly from 226 on Tuesday. Of those patients, 28 were being treated in intensive care, a slight rise from 26 a day earlier.