Uptick in LA County COVID-19 cases raises concerns for upcoming Easter, Passover, Ramadan gatherings

LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- COVID-19 cases have ticked up slightly in Los Angeles County. This comes as millions of people plan Easter, Passover and Ramadan gatherings, raising concerns about a possible surge in cases.

Health officials say B-A-2 is now the predominant subvariant in the county and around the world. A new state study finds reported COVID-19 cases are substantially undercounted.

A group of Los Angeles Unified School District teachers want an end to vaccine mandates.

"Save our kids from academic crisis," protesters chanted.

Parents and educators chanted hand held signs outside the L.A. Unified School District boardroom asking for vaccine mandates to be lifted for unvaccinated teachers who have been asked not to return to classrooms.

''I've been pushed out of my classroom solely because I want to choose what goes into my body. I'm healthy. I'm not a threat to anybody," said Soni Lloyd, an LAUSD teacher.

"I miss my classroom. Currently, my school has three vacancies. There's no reason for that. I'm available to work. I miss my class and I just want to go back," said LAUSD teacher Yvonne Rios.

Governor Gavin Newsom made headlines last October when he made California the first state to mandate student vaccines in schools. Now the mandate is on hold until July 2023

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California is delaying a coronavirus vaccine mandate for schoolchildren until at least the summer of 2023.

"We don't have full FDA approval, and we recognize the implementation challenges that schools and school leaders would face," said Dr. Mark Ghaly, California Health and Human Services Secretary

A new tool in the fight against COVID-19 is set to roll out soon. The first device that can detect the presence of COVID-19 using a breath sample. It now has FDA emergency use authorization. The rapid, suitcase-sized testing device will only be used in medical settings.

This innovation comes as Americans prepare to gather over the holiday weekend which is sparking concerns of potential surges in infections.

"We know how to gather together safely now. If you're going to see somebody at high risk, get a test before you do that," said Dr. Ashish Jha, White House COVID-19 Response Coordinator:

Also, a new state study of antibody samples found a large number of COVID-19 infections were under-reported between May and June 2021.

"In L.A. County, there were three times more COVID-19 infections than reported cases among adults," said L.A. County Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer. "And five times more COVID-19 infections than reported cases among children."

Ferrer adds cases continue to be undercounted since so many people are now using at-home tests without reporting positive results.

This holiday weekend, she is urging people to mask around the immunocompromised, and to stay home if you're sick. It's also a good time to get boosted if you're eligible.
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