Masks in a school
Masks in school - photo courtesy of Pixabay

Los Angeles County’s health director voiced concern again Wednesday about rising numbers of COVID-19 cases at schools, mirroring similar increases in the community at large.

According to the Department of Public Health, there were 5,918 positive cases at county schools ruing the week ending May 15 — 4,723 among students and 1,195 among staff. One month earlier, during the week ending April 17, there were 2,742 positive cases at schools, with 2,159 among students and 583 among staff.

“While we recognize that many children who test positive experience mild illness, national trends are showing increases in cases and hospitalization rates for children and more concerns about long term impacts of even mild infection in children,” county Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer said in a statement. “We encourage parents, students, teachers, and staff, during this time of high transmission with the most infectious strains seen to date, to wear a mask when indoors and get vaccinated and boosted when eligible.”

She noted that for students and staff returning to school after being exposed, “masking is required through Day 10 from the date of your last exposure, along with testing between days three and five.”

“If we can all do our best to protect each other, and those who are more vulnerable to severe illness or death, we can safely celebrate the end of the school year and enjoy the beginning of summer,” she said.

County health officials said there were 16 outbreaks at schools during the week ending May 21, with some larger outbreaks occurred due to proms, school events and field trips.

With Memorial Day weekend approaching, health officials urged residents to get tested before and after traveling, and to take precautions when in large crowds.

The number of COVID-positive patients in county hospitals was 410 as of Wednesday, down from 419 on Tuesday. The number of those patients being treated in intensive care was 52, down slightly from 53 a day earlier.

The county reported 4,202 new COVID infections on Wednesday, raising the overall total from throughout the pandemic to 2,949,830. Another six virus-related deaths were also reported, lifting the county’s death toll to 32,101.

The average daily rate of people testing positive for the virus was 3.8% as of Wednesday.

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