COVID cases continue to climb in LA County; health officials warn of possible 'tripledemic'

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Thursday, August 24, 2023
COVID cases climbing in LA County; health officials precautions
With many schools in full swing, health officials are tracking an increase in COVID cases and are warning at-risk people to take precautions.

LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- With many schools in full swing, health officials are tracking an increase in COVID cases. Health officials are warning at-risk people to take precautions.

We're already seeing some places taking some precautions in light of the active outbreaks.

L.A. County health officials are requiring some Lionsgate employees in Santa Monica to mask in some parts of their offices. And doctors are reporting an uptick of cases in their practices.

"COVID hasn't gone anywhere. We're seeing another uptick right now. It almost feels like a surge from my perspective where I'm working," said Dr. David Bronstein, a Pediatric infectious disease specialist with Kaiser Permanente in Antelope Valley. He expects the rising trend to continue.

"We very well may have another tripledemic. I think that's what we're bracing ourselves for right now," he said, referring to COVID, flu and respiratory syncytial virus, or RSV.

This week, L.A. County health officials reported 88 active outbreaks, 14 of those at workplaces.

This fall, you will need your yearly flu shot, the new COVID vaccine and for many Americans - one more shot.

About 330 county residents are hospitalized with COVID, while the number remains low, officials report a steady increase over the last six weeks.

So far in August, public health data shows the elderly are most at risk. Those 80 and older were more than five times as likely to be hospitalized with COVID than people 50-79.

The latest Omicron subvariant, EG.5, known as Eris, is starting to take hold in California, so far making up an estimated 12% of cases. Although California health officials said the subvariant XBB.1.5, dubbed Kraken, still dominates. This as experts predict an early and harsh flu season.

There's no reason to think we're not going to see the flu circulating at the same time as COVID and at the same time as RSV," Bronstein said.

Health officials are urging those at higher risk to take more precautions such as masking. This includes individuals who are older, those with weakened immune systems and chronic health conditions. CDC officials expect to roll out a new COVID vaccine sometime in September or early October. Bronstein strongly advises everyone who is eligible to get it.

"We haven't had a new COVID vaccine for a while. This is going to be updated to cover the strains that we know are circulating right now," he said.

Updated shots from Pfizer, Moderna and Novavax are expected to become available later this fall.

Early trial data shows the new vaccines are effective against the quickly-spreading Eris subvariant.