Los Angeles County saw an uptick in COVID-19 cases at schools following the spring break and holidays, officials said Wednesday.
“As individuals return from Spring Break and celebrating Spring holidays, the highly infectious BA.2 subvariant is contributing to case and outbreak increases across the County,” L.A. County Health director Barbara Ferrer said in a statement.
It’s also leading to more students and staff testing positive than before the break, according to authorities.
Among 529,000 coronavirus tests administered last week, 1,842 turned out to be positive for the virus. That’s an increase from the 844 positive tests that showed up the week that ended on April 8, officials said.
There was also an increase in the number of school-linked outbreaks after the spring break.
Last week, there were 13 known COVID-19 outbreaks across L.A. County’s schools, including six in elementary schools, one in a middle school, two in high schools and four in youth sports.
“While test positivity at schools remains very low, an increase in positive cases serves as a reminder that students and staff should continue to use common-sense safety measures,” L.A. County Department of Public Health officials said.
While masks are no longer required indoors at schools, health authorities continue to strongly recommend them — particularly for younger children who are not vaccinated and as the highly contagious BA.2 omicron subvariant circulates.
Cases have been rising across L.A. County thanks to BA.2, which now accounts for at least 84% of sequenced virus specimens in the county.
The good news is that so far, the increase in case numbers has not led to a spike in severe illness in L.A. County. COVID-19 hospitalization and death numbers remain low, and are even slightly decreasing.
Officials attribute the lower numbers of hospitalizations and deaths, in part, to the protection provided by the vaccines against BA.2.
“With recurring reports of new variants of concern, including sub-lineages of BA.2, we are relieved that the current approved vaccines protect the vaccinated person and those around the vaccinated individual from severe illness,” Ferrer said earlier this week.
Still, with infections on the rise, people need to be careful not to spread the virus to others, officials said.
Ferrer said those who have had a recent exposure to an infected person should monitor themselves for any signs of illness and wear a mask when indoors around others for 10 days after their last exposure.
“This is particularly important at work and school sites, where individuals are often in close contact with others for extended periods of time,” Ferrer said. “These simple steps reduce unnecessary risk for everyone and can break the chain of transmission. ”