Nearly 3,000 more COVID-19 infections and seven more virus-related deaths were reported in Los Angeles County in its latest data, with health officials again reporting increases in the number of cases among school students and staff.
According to the county Department of Public Health, 3,151 students and 737 staff members tested positive for the virus during the week ending May 1, the fifth consecutive week of increases, and a 322% increase from one month ago.
Another 16 school outbreaks were reported during the week ending May 7.
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County officials noted that while most children who get infected with the virus experience only mild symptoms, "dozens of children'' have been dealing with "long COVID'' and "dozens'' of others have been hospitalized.
"With the school year almost over, we all look forward to celebrating the accomplishments of students and staff,'' county Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer said in a statement. "When gathering with others, staff, students, and their families should consider all sensible safety measures to layer in as many protections as feasible. Masking indoors at large events is particularly important to avoid the future disruptions that occur when the
virus spreads to event attendees. Fortunately, with easy access to vaccines, boosters, testing, therapeutics, and high-quality masks, having a good time with others is easily possible to do without creating unnecessary risk for ourselves and those around us.''
Daily COVID infections have been on the rise in the county and elsewhere, with health officials placing blame primarily on the BA.2 subvariant of the virus, along with an even more infectious offshoot known as BA.2.12.1.
According to the most recent testing on a sample of Los Angeles County infections, BA.2 and its subvariants were responsible for 96% of cases, with 8% of the tested specimens identified as BA.2.12.1.
Health officials have said that BA.2 was estimated to be 20% to 30% more infectious than the Omicron variant that fueled a winter surge in cases, and BA.2.12.1 is believed to be 25% more infectious than BA.2.
But while case numbers have been slowly rising, hospitalization and death figures have remained low, a fact attributed to higher vaccination and natural immunity rates.
As of Wednesday, there were 249 COVID-positive patients in Los Angeles County hospitals, down from 252 on Tuesday. The number of those patients being treated in intensive care was 24, down from 27 a day earlier.
A total of 2,997 new infections were reported by the county Wednesday, lifting the cumulative pandemic total to 2,900,449. The seven more deaths increased the county's virus-related death toll to 32,007.
The average daily rate of people testing positive for the virus was 2.5% as of Wednesday, roughly the same as Tuesday.