Photo by John Schreiber.

Los Angeles County reported another 34 COVID-19 deaths Wednesday, along with 864 new cases, while again urging people to continue taking precautions against virus spread.

“Even though we have transitioned to a post-surge period, there is still substantial virus transmission across the county,” county Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer said in a statement. “While many people may have only mild symptoms and are able to recover at home should they test positive, other individuals remain at elevated risk for severe infection, hospitalization, or death.”

The 34 deaths reported Wednesday lifted the county’s total from throughout the pandemic to 31,372. The new cases gave the county a cumulative total of 2,815,379.

The rolling average daily rate of people testing positive for the virus was 0.7% as of Wednesday, holding steady over the past week.

According to state figures, there were a total of 499 COVID-positive patients in county hospitals as of Wednesday, down from the 501 reported on Tuesday. Of those patients, 90 were being treated in intensive care units, down one from the previous day.

County health officials again said they are working to increase the number of providers who can offer residents access to anti-COVID therapeutics.

According to the Department of Public Health, the oral medications are Paxlovid and Molnupiravir are prescription drugs that must be taken within five days of COVID symptoms developing. Paxlovid is available for anyone age 12 and older who weighs more than 88 pounds. Molnupiravir is available for anyone 18 and over.

A third medication, Evulsheld, is given through an injection and is available for people 12 and over who have not been exposed to the virus and are unable to get a COVID vaccine for medical reasons.

“Public Health thanks our partners that are working to provide access to therapeutics for those high-risk individuals who are most vulnerable to becoming very ill,” Ferrer said.

Meanwhile, labor talks continued Wednesday between the Los Angeles Unified School District and its teachers’ union, United Teachers Los Angeles, in an effort to determine if the district will lift its indoor mask-wearing mandate.

The state and county have lifted the masking requirement, but the LAUSD’s remains in place under terms of its contract with UTLA.

Superintendent Alberto Carvalho has indicated he is willing to lift the requirement, but it cannot be done without the UTLA agreeing to the move. The district’s current labor agreement with the union, which includes a requirement for mask-wearing as a safety measure, is scheduled to remain in place until the end of the current semester.

A group of parents rallied outside UTLA headquarters Tuesday calling for an end to the mandate.

“In my opinion it’s child abuse and it’s going to cause trauma for the rest of their lives,” parent Anna Gonzalez told CBS2.

Parent Robbie King told the station that maintaining a mask mandate flies in the face of recommendations by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“It’s just unacceptable,” King told Channel 2. “I’m just so tired of this union bargaining things that they really have no business being in.”

He added: “Everybody else in the entire nation has followed the rules. … We’re tired of it.”

UTLA issued a statement last month supporting masks in schools.

“LAUSD schools have been the safest and most well equipped in the country because educators and families united to demand critical health and safety protocols,” according to the union. “These protocols, like indoor masking, have protected tens of thousands of educators and more than half a million students, along with their families. It is premature to discuss removing these health and safety measures while there are still many unvaccinated youth in our early education programs and schools.”

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