Los Angeles Public Health Urges Vaccinations and Boosters as Positive Cases Increase at Schools and in the Community

Los Angeles–With continued high transmission of the more infectious COVID-19 subvariants, the number of students and staff testing positive at K-12 schools in LA County increased for the fifth consecutive week with 3,151 students and 737 staff testing positive for the week ending May 1; this is a 322% increase from just one month ago. Test positivity, at 0.5%, has also increased by 163% this past month.

School-associated outbreaks remain elevated for the week ending May 7, with 16 outbreaks (seven in elementary schools, two in middle schools, and seven in high schools). One month ago, for the week ending April 9, there were 11 outbreaks (seven in elementary schools, one in a middle school, and three in high schools).

And while most children infected with COVID-19 experience relatively mild illness, there continues to be dozens of children experiencing long COVID and dozens hospitalized with more severe illness. During the 90-day period ending April 21, the youngest pediatric patients, ages 0-4-years-old, not yet eligible to receive the vaccines, had the highest hospitalization rate with 33 hospitalizations per 100,000 children. Children ages 12 to 17 had the second highest hospitalization rate with 14 hospitalizations per 100,000, and children ages 5 to 11 had the lowest hospitalization rate with 10 children hospitalized per 100,000.

Unvaccinated children continue to be more at risk for severe illness and hospitalization. During the 90-day period ending April 30, the hospitalization rate among unvaccinated children ages 5-11 was three times higher than the hospitalization rate among fully vaccinated children in the same age group. For unvaccinated children ages 12-17, during this same time period, the hospitalization rate was two times higher than the hospitalization rate among fully vaccinated children in the same age group.

Vaccines are approved for children ages five and older and are widely available. There are 218 school-based vaccine clinics this week. These school vaccine sites offer pediatric doses for ages 5-11, as well as vaccines and boosters for eligible individuals 12 years of age and older. As a reminder, vaccines continue to prevent severe illness and hospitalizations, and are the safest way to keep children in school and participating in other activities.

With high levels of community transmission, Public Health continues to strongly recommend that all students and staff wear well-fitting, high filtration masks, preferably respirators, when indoors. Masking is required indoors for asymptomatic staff and students who have been exposed to someone with COVID-19 for 10 days from their last exposure. Wearing a well-fitting, high filtration mask or respirator provides a strong layer of protection that can lower the risk of spreading the virus at schools and school-related activities.