According to Public Health data, pediatric hospitalizations increased by nearly 190% between Dec. 4 and Dec. 25.  And while the numbers of children hospitalized remain very small, those 0-4 years old saw the biggest rise in rates with a 3.25-fold increase, followed by 12-to-17- year- old teens, who had a 3.0-fold increase, and 5-to-11 -year- old, who saw an increase of 1.5-fold. Cases among children have also increased by 207% from the two-week period starting on November 8th to the two-week period ending on Dec. 26.

With pediatric cases and hospitalizations rising and many children returning to in-person learning this week, Public Health asks that everyone focus on following the public health safety measures that reduce spread including wearing a medical grade mask indoors and in outdoor crowded spaces; testing all staff and students before or during the first few days of schools reopening; and strictly adhering to the revised quarantine and isolation requirements outlined in the LA County Health Officer Order issued on December 31.   Along with getting vaccinated and boosted, these are critical steps to help reduce transmission in the community and at our schools.

This week, in an effort to increase capacity at schools to offer testing to returning students, LA County Public Health and the LA County Office of Education are working to distribute at-home test kits provided by the state for the county’s 1.4 million school aged students.  Additionally, the L.A. County Home Test Collection program is offering free, at-home COVID nasal swab test kits via mail to all L.A. County residents who have experienced COVID-19 symptoms or believe they may have been exposed. These kits are free of charge and can be requested through the program’s website at www.covid19.lacounty.gov/hometest

“I send my heartfelt condolences to everyone mourning the loss of a loved one to COVID-19,” said Dr. Barbara Ferrer, PhD, MPH, MEd, Director of Public Health. “As students return to the classroom, we all need to follow the public health safety measures in place to ensure our schools can open safely after the winter break. Because higher community transmission creates additional challenges at our schools, everyone needs to do their part to slow the spread of the virus.” 

“Most importantly, given that vaccinations and boosters provide the most protection against COVID-19, reducing transmission and disruptions in learning at schools, families need to act urgently to get their school-aged children vaccinated,” Ferrer continued. “Additionally, staff, teachers and older teens should be getting their boosters as soon as they are eligible.  An important protection from transmission of this airborne virus are well-fitting, higher-grade masks and these should be worn by everyone at schools when indoors and in outdoor crowded spaces. And where possible, children and staff should have a negative COVID-19 test the first week they return to the classroom. I am grateful to the state, our partners at LACOE, and school district administrators and staff for everything they are doing to distribute these test kits to the students so that there is an additional layer of safety as schools reopen for a new semester.” 

Public Health confirmed eight additional deaths and 16,269 new cases of COVID-19. The number of cases and deaths reflect the weekend reporting delays. Of the 8 new deaths reported today, two people were between the ages of 30 and 49, one was between the ages of 50-64, three were between the ages of 65-79, and two were over the age of 80 years old. Of the 8 newly reported deaths, 7 had underlying conditions. To date, the total number of deaths in L.A. County is 24,647.

Public Health has identified a total 1,757,522 positive cases of COVID-19 across all areas of L.A. County. Monday’s positivity rate is 22.5%.

There are 1,792 people with COVID-19 currently hospitalized. Testing results are available for more than 10,113,300 individuals, with 16% of people testing positive. 

While we continue to experience the surge in cases, Public Health is reminding residents to avoid visiting the emergency room unless they need emergency medical care. Residents should not be visiting the emergency department solely to get a COVID test or for minor complaints that could be resolved through their primary care physician. Emergency room visits should be reserved for those patients who are feeling severely ill – for example, those who are short of breath – or who have serious concerns about their health and who require immediate emergency care. 

To keep workplaces and schools open, residents and workers are asked to:

Get tested to help reduce the spread, especially if you traveled for the holidays, have had a possible exposure, or have symptoms, or are gathering with people not in your household

Adhere to masking requirements when indoors or at crowded outdoor spaces, regardless of vaccination status

Residents are legally required to be isolated if they have a positive COVID test result and that vaccinated close contacts with symptoms and unvaccinated close contacts need to quarantine.  For updated isolation and quarantine guidance, please visit www.publichealth.lacounty.gov

COVID-19 vaccines are safe and effective and are recommended for everyone 5 years old and older to help protect against COVID-19. Vaccinations are always free and open to eligible residents and workers regardless of immigration status. Appointments are not needed at all Public Health vaccination sites and many community sites where first, second, and third doses are available. 

To find a vaccination site near you, or to make an appointment, please visit:

www.VaccinateLACounty.com (English) or www.VacunateLosAngeles.com (Spanish). If you need assistance, you can also call 1-833-540-0473 for help.

Submitted by Public Health