LYNWOOD, Calif. (KABC) -- Despite the BA.2 variant leading to a rise in COVID-19 cases nationwide, health officials say fewer people are hospitalized for COVID than at any time since the start of the pandemic
And the White House is officially extending its declaration of a coronavirus public health emergency, which will allow millions of Americans to continue receiving pandemic relief such as health insurance benefits. This is the eighth time the declaration has been renewed due to the ongoing consequences of the pandemic.
Other aid continues in the form of free COVID-19 vaccines and boosters. And southeast Los Angeles County community leaders want to make sure residents have access.
On Wednesday, Lynwood City Councilmember Marisela Santana could not wait to get her second booster. During the pandemic she lost 12 relatives.
"I need to protect my family," she told ABC7. "I need to protect my community with the rest of my leaders. And we have a lot of leaders in the SELA area who lost parents to COVID."
"We know the vaccines work," Los Angeles County Supervisor Janice Hahn said, speaking at the Commerce Senior Center, where elected officials from various SELA cities gathered outside a vaccine clinic united in one message.
"Everybody needs to get ready and protect themselves by getting boosted," said Hahn.
In the city of Lynwood where 1 out of 6 people contracted COVID and 1 out of 400 died, getting testing and vaccines were a huge problem throughout the pandemic.
"If they have to travel to get it, it's harder, " said Santana.
Now Santana is glad the L.A. County Department of Public Health is providing a mobile vaccine clinic to improve access.
"If you have a van that can go out to the neighborhoods -- that's what we were asking for," she said.
Philadelphia became the first major U.S. city to re-implement indoor masking in public spaces. Could this happen again in Los Angeles?
"Public Health will always do what is necessary to protect the health and well-being of residents," said Dr. Alicia Chang of the L.A. County Department of Public Health.
In L.A. County, hospitalization remains stable and the death rate low. Yet the positivity rate is slowly inching up. This week, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention decided to extend its mask mandate on airlines and other forms of public transportation until May 3.
"I know that masking is a divisive topic. People are tired of wearing masks. But it does help prevent transmission of not just COVID but other respiratory illnesses as well," Chang said.
Community leaders don't want to be in the same position they were in a year ago, so they are urging everyone to protect themselves and get boosted.
"Our region, our families, they lost loved ones, so they're ready for this. They want a second booster," Santana said.
The vaccine clinic at the Commerce Senior Center is open daily from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. L.A. County's mobile vaccine clinic van will travel to various neighborhoods hit hard by the pandemic.