LA County moves into higher risk category as COVID cases continue to rise

All signs are pointing toward a summer surge, according to health officials.

Denise Dador Image
Friday, May 20, 2022
LA County moves into higher risk category as COVID cases rise
Rising cases of COVID-19 have moved Los Angeles County into the federal government's "medium risk" category.

LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- Rising cases of COVID-19 have moved Los Angeles County into the federal government's "medium risk" category.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's concern level rose on Thursday from "low" to "medium" as L.A. County added another 4,700 new cases in addition to rising hospitalizations and the positivity rate rising in the past week.

The move from "low" to "medium" won't trigger any immediate changes in health regulations the county, but things like indoor masking are being strongly recommended for both residents and businesses.

Plus, all signs are pointing toward a summer surge.

"We have now moved to the medium community level, which is concerning since it could signal that the increase that we're seeing in our COVID cases may soon put pressure on our healthcare resources," said L.A. County Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer.

She said the county has the tools to flatten the curve, such as COVID testing capabilities, vaccines and masks.

READ ALSO | Public warned of using unlicensed COVID-19 testing sites as cases sharply rise in LA County

COVID-19 cases are rising across Southern California, and in Los Angeles County, more than 4,000 new cases were added Wednesday.

"Everyone two years of age and older including those who are vaxxed and boosted should wear a mask when they are at indoor gatherings and in indoor public settings," Ferrer said.

Meanwhile, children 5 to 11 years old are now one step closer to an extra shot of protection.

After pouring over Pfizer's data - which shows the booster shot is safe for children - a CDC advisory panel voted to recommend the single booster dose, which must be given at least five months after the primary series.

An initial analysis found it increased the antibodies against the omicron variant by 36 fold.

"They are experts in vaccine guidance, and I sincerely believe that no member of this committee would recommend this vaccine unless they would give it to their own children," said Dr. Alok Patel with Stanford Children's Health.

But some parents are still on the fence about boosters for kids.

"They came out with too much stuff too fast for me," said parent Charletta Sheard.

The move comes as COVID infections among kids are now at their highest point since February, and hospital admissions are up 70% in the past month.

CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky emphasized the importance of getting ahead of the next surge.

"It's important for us to anticipate where this pandemic is moving and deploy the tools we have where they will have the greatest impact," Walensky said.

Ferrer said re-infections are becoming quite common.

"If you were infected with omicron early on and you have not yet been vaccinated or boosted, please go ahead and do that because that will offer you additional protection should you get re-infected," she said.

Walensky added the highly transmissible omicron offshoot BA.2.12.1 now makes up 27% of cases.

Also, once the CDC director officially authorizes boosters for kids 5 to 11, we should expect them to be available shortly after.