Children at a Los Angeles school
Children at a Los Angeles school. Courtesy LAUSD

With schools beginning their third week of in-person instruction for the fall term, Los Angeles County health officials are concerned about a trend of rising coronavirus case rates among children who aren’t yet eligible to get vaccinated.

“Case, hospitalization and death rates are higher among unvaccinated members of all groups than they are among those vaccinated,” Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer said. “Vaccinated people continue to have rates for all outcomes that are many-fold lower than those unvaccinated — they are four to eight times less likely to be hospitalized, and five to seven times less likely to die from an infection.

“During this period of high transmission, protecting those younger than 12 who are not yet eligible for the vaccine, is of utmost importance and we can all take as many precautions as feasible to limit risk of transmission.”

Ferrer provided a list of safety precautions, including:

— moving activities outdoors whenever possible;

— distancing and avoiding crowds;

— masking always when indoors and outdoors if distancing isn’t possible; and

— carefully assessing nonessential activities that carry more risk of transmission.

The Los Angeles Unified School District will introduce school-based coronavirus vaccine clinics beginning Monday, offering the shots on campus to any eligible students and employees.

Interim Superintendent Megan Reilly said mobile vaccination teams will visit every LAUSD middle and high school campus to deliver first and second doses.

Students age 12 and older are eligible.

The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health announced 2,232 new positive COVID-19 tests and five additional deaths on Sunday, bringing the county’s cumulative totals to 1,403,053 cases and 25,245 fatalities since the pandemic began.

The number of COVID patients in county hospitals was 1,687 as of Sunday, according to state figures, with 453 of those in intensive care.

Testing results are available for more than 8,066,000 people, with 16% testing positive. Saturday’s daily test positivity rate was 2.3%.

On Friday, Ferrer cited case statistics involving schools, calling the results “somewhat sobering.”

She said that during the week of Aug. 16-22, 3,186 new cases were confirmed in schools, with the highest percentage involving LAUSD campuses, where weekly testing is required.

During the month of August, 14 school “outbreaks” have been confirmed, involving three or more linked infections, with Ferrer noting that half of them were associated with youth sports.

She said that average daily deaths have increased by 6% over the past week, reaching a seven-day daily average of 18 per day, adding that unvaccinated people are seeing the brunt of the deaths.

County officials have been reporting slight increases in cases among residents and staff at skilled nursing facilities over the past month, despite the relatively high vaccination rates in such facilities. Officials attributed the increases to the highly transmissible Delta variant of COVID-19, which is blamed for the majority of current infections across the country.

According to the health department, 102 COVID cases were confirmed in skilled nursing facilities during the week ending Aug. 15 — 25 among residents and 77 among staff — along with three resident deaths. Over the previous four weeks, an average of 79 new cases were reported at nursing facilities.

The county has begun administering third doses of COVID vaccines for “immunocompromised” residents at nursing facilities. So far, about 150 such shots have been administered.

According to Ferrer, 74% of eligible L.A. County residents age 12 and up have received at least one dose of vaccine, and 64% are fully vaccinated. Of the county’s overall population of about 10.3 million people — including those under age 12 who aren’t eligible for the shots — 63% have received at least one dose, and 55% are fully vaccinated.

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