LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- Not everyone is back to their regular schedule, but Los Angeles County health officials hope their plan to have residents wear a mask for at least 10 days after returning to work or school will prevent a post-holiday surge.
Five days into a new year, the number of new cases and hospitalizations in L.A. County remain stable, but following the post-Thanksgiving surge, COVID-19 continues to take the lives of dozens of residents daily.
"It is tragic that we're still having a significant number of deaths, which is part of why we're encouraging people after travel right now to wear their masks for 10 days because we all went places, " said Dr. Sharon Balter, the director of the Division of Communicable Disease Control and Prevention for L.A. County's Department of Public Health.
Balter said preventing a post-Christmas surge will help L.A. County residents reduce the risk for severe disease and death in the coming weeks.
"We also want to encourage people to take a test before they go back to work and most importantly, to stay home when you're sick," she said.
In November, unvaccinated people in California were nearly three times more likely to die from COVID than people who were vaccinated with at least the primary series.
"We still want to encourage people to get vaccinated. If you haven't gotten the latest booster, it's definitely not too late," Balter said.
Scientists say the COVID bivalent booster still offers protection against the latest omicron subvariant XBB.1.5, which appears to be more immune evasive and contagious.
"It's now causing about 40% of new cases in the U.S. but in the northeast, it's responsible for around 75%," said Infectious Disease Specialist Dr. David Bronstein with Kaiser Permanente Antelope Valley.
As 2023 gets started, Balter asks that we reflect on how far we've come since the start of the pandemic and that we continue to take care of ourselves and others.
"By wearing their masks, staying home when they're sick and getting vaccinated those can be our New Year's wellness resolutions," Balter said.
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