LOS ANGELES COUNTY (KABC) -- On the two-year anniversary of Los Angeles County's first confirmed COVID-19 case, health officials say 91 more people have died of the virus, including a 15-month-old.
The county says this is the youngest person to die of the virus since the start of the pandemic, calling it "a stark reminder" that the virus can impact anyone.
"I send my heartfelt condolences and wishes of healing to the family who suffered the devastating loss of their small child, and to the countless people who have lost a loved one to this pandemic," said Director of Public Health Dr. Barbara Ferrer in a statement issued on Wednesday. "Prioritizing and ensuring safety at schools during a surge is only possible if all those at the school commit to complying fully with public health measures; this cannot be accomplished by staff alone."
In an effort to protect school-aged children, Public Health and L.A. County schools have implemented various safety measures that are resulting in fewer COVID cases among students and staff.
The county says for the week ending Jan. 23, schools conducted 555,879 COVID tests and confirmed 40,694 positive cases. The positivity rate was 7.8%.
It's a 33% decrease from the prior week, according to the county, when the positivity rate was 11%.
The county said most of the tests - about 70% of them - are being conducted by the Los Angeles Unified School District alone.
Despite a decline in cases, health officials say the number of COVID outbreaks at schools has increased, largely due to the highly infectious omicron variant.
The county says between Jan. 16-22, there were 11 new reports of school COVID outbreaks opened - nine in elementary schools, one in a high school, and one in youth sports.
"These numbers remain relatively low given the high numbers of new cases and suggest that schools continue to successfully implement public health measures that reduce spread," said the county.
The wait time for test results in Los Angeles can be up to week, but Mayor Eric Garcetti reassured people that there will soon be more access to rapid antigen tests and turnaround times for PCR tests are improving.
"We've had two or three encouraging days ... testing times will be better," said Garcetti.
Meanwhile, in Orange County, there have been more than 6,000 deaths and more than half a million positive cases.
"Even though omicron causes milder illness, we are still seeing severe illness and you're still seeing death and we do not know the long term consequence of an asymptomatic illness or a mild illness," said Orange County Deputy Health Officer Dr. Regina Chinsio-Kwong.
As of Wednesday afternoon, the county says there are 4,534 people hospitalized with COVID. For more information on cases across L.A. County, visit the county's COVID website.