LA County moves into `Low' COVID activity level as case numbers fall. Photo via Pixabay.

Amid slowly rising infection numbers and continued spread of the BA.2 subvariant of COVID-19, Los Angeles County health officials said Tuesday they are accelerating efforts to provide additional booster doses of vaccine to residents of skilled nursing facilities.

According to the county Department of Public Health, 91% of nursing facility residents are fully vaccinated, while 85% are vaccinated and have received one booster dose. Among nursing facility staff, 98% are fully vaccinated and 85% are vaccinated with one booster dose.

Health officials said they are conducting outreach at all skilled nursing facilities in the county to determine who is eligible for a second dose. The county is also scheduling mobile vaccination clinics at the facilities, with nearly two dozen such efforts planned in the next two weeks.

“With the increased circulation of the highly infectious BA.2 subvariant, protecting the health of loved ones in skilled nursing facilities will require that residents, staff and visitors continue to take sensible safety measures,” Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer said in a statement. “Residents and staff should be fully boosted, and anyone eligible should get the second booster as soon as possible.

“We also encourage families and friends visiting nursing homes or other congregate care facilities to do the same and be up to date on their vaccinations, in addition to getting tested before visiting and following all onsite safety measures,” she said. “Our most vulnerable residents, including those that are older, immunocompromised, living with serious health conditions, or unvaccinated, still need the additional protections offered by the tools and strategies we know will reduce risk.”

Second booster doses are available to anyone age 50 and older, as long as it has been at least four months since the first booster shot. Additional boosters are also available for some younger residents with underlying health conditions.

The push for more boosters comes as the highly infectious BA.2 subvariant of the virus continues its spread, now believed to account for the majority of new cases in the county. As a result, the county reported Monday that the average daily number of new cases over the past seven days had risen 23% compared to the previous week.

On Tuesday, the county reported 795 new COVID infections, raising the overall pandemic total to 2,847,097. Another 13 virus-related deaths were also reported, raising the county’s death toll to 31,819.

While case numbers have been inching upward after months of decline, deaths have remained low, as have hospitalizations of people with the virus.

According to state figures, there were 270 COVID-positive patients in county hospitals as of Tuesday, up slightly from 265 on Monday. Of those patients, 36 were being treated in intensive care, down from 38 on Monday.

The rolling average daily rate of people testing positive for the virus was also low, at 1% as of Tuesday.

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