The county’s case rate is now 185 new cases per 100,000 people, and the COVID-19 hospital admission rate is 11.9 per 100,000 people, moving the CDC community level designation from low to medium. While moving into the Medium Community Level will not change required mitigation strategies in LA County, it does signal that case rates and hospitalizations are elevated and the county could be in the High Community Level as soon as this Thursday if the case rate reaches 200 cases per 100,000 people.

Emerging strains of the SARS-CoV-2 virus are likely contributing to higher COVID-19 case rates and hospitalizations across Los Angeles County. With high prevalence of the new dominant strains BQ.1 and BQ.1.1 (descendant of BA.5), all residents should follow common sense precautions that work to prevent transmission of respiratory viruses, including wearing a high-quality mask that fits well in indoor public spaces and getting the new updated Fall COVID-19 booster.

Current county data shows that the subvariant Omicron BA.5 is rapidly losing dominance. The subvariants BQ.1 and BQ.1.1. now account for the second and third greatest number of sequenced specimens respectively, and combined, the BQ strains make up 38% of specimens, surpassing BA.5, which is at about 36%.

With mounting evidence that the new bivalent booster, specifically formulated to provide protection against BA.4 and BA.5, provides significant additional protection against symptomatic SARS-CoV-2 infection, increasing the number of people boosted can mitigate the waning immunity of the monovalent doses. Unfortunately, only 16% of eligible LA County residents have received the updated bivalent booster – and six million residents are currently eligible who have not yet taken advantage of this additional defense. Everyone in LA County who is 5 years or older, and received their primary series or last booster more than two months ago, is eligible for the updated bivalent booster.

Within people age 65 and older, who statistically are more likely to have severe outcomes from COVID-19, uptake, while double that of the general population, remains concerningly low. Nearly 70% of older eligible residents, or about 880,000 people, have not yet received the updated booster.

The updated Fall COVID-19 boosters, plus flu vaccines, are readily available at Public Health sites, pharmacies, and other locations across the county. Seniors and residents who can’t easily leave their home can contact Public Health telehealth services at (833) 540-0473, seven days a week, from 8 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. to arrange for at-home COVID-19 Fall booster and primary series vaccinations or transportation to a vaccination center.

Residents can also go to VaccinateLACounty.com to find nearby vaccination sites, request a mobile vaccination team for your worksite or community event, or an in-home visit if you or someone you know is homebound.

Submitted by Public Health