Counts: While cases are creeping up, other measurements remain stable and are not prompting alarm. Courtesy image

COVID-19 cases are once again on the rise in L.A. County, but according to Public Health Director Dr. Barbara Ferrer no new masking rules or restrictions are in the works. 

“We’re not seeing exponential growth in cases, we’re seeing sort of steady small increases, somewhere between 2 percent to 3 percent rise everyday in cases. You know, at some point, this will become more concerning if it doesn’t level off and our hope is that it does level off,” said Ferrer in an April 14 media briefing. 

As of April 12, the County’s the seven day average case rate is 960, which marks a 23 percent increase from the 783 average recorded the prior week. However, this is nowhere in the ballpark of the over 40,000 seven day case rates recorded at the peak of the Omicron surge.

According to Ferrer, the modest uptick in cases is likely due to the increased circulation of the slightly more contagious subvariant Omicron BA.2. As of the week that ended in March 26, this subvariant accounted for 67 percent of the sequenced specimens. This number is likely an underestimation as the data is two weeks old. 

Ferrer also announced a change to isolation requirements. Per the new County order, people who have come in close contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19 and are asymptomatic will no longer be required to quarantine. They will still be required to wear a mask when indoors around others for ten days after exposure and test within three to five days after exposure. Should they test positive they must immediately quarantine.

As cases continue to trickle upwards, Ferrer encouraged residents to get their booster shot, or if applicable, their second booster.

“As spring is a time for renewal, it makes a lot of sense to both give thanks and take an opportunity to recommit to staying healthy and keeping those around us healthy. With the recent rise in COVID cases, if you’re planning to gather or travel for upcoming spring holidays, please again take note of your personal risk and the risk of others you’ll be around,” said Ferrer. “This is a good time to make sure you’re up to date with your vaccines or to start that series.”

As of April 10, 74 percent of residents 65 and older received at least one booster dose and 12 percent have already received their second booster. For adults 50 to 64, 65 percent received their first booster dose and 7 percent received their second.

Ferrer said that the reinstatement of new masking guidelines is not on the horizon for LA County and that the decision to do so would be based on the CDC’s transmission levels. LA County currently remains in the CDC’s low ranking of community spread.

“My hope is that we’re able to keep this increase very small and that we continue to make progress with getting more people vaccinated and boosted and put ourselves in much better shape for whatever can be a future challenge with either a new variant of concern or a sub variant of Omicron that actually becomes problematic,” said Ferrer.

Clara@smdp.com