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With the recent rise in COVID-19 cases, residents planning to gather for upcoming spring holidays should follow all safety precautions to avoid spreading COVID-19 or being part of an outbreak. 

While outbreaks in many sectors remain low, Public Health cautions that gatherings for Ramadan, Passover, Easter and Spring Break could eventually lead to more cases and outbreaks.

The average number of daily new cases reported over the last week increased to 892, a 23 percent increase from the average of 724 daily new cases over the previous week. This increase in cases is likely due to the more easily transmitted BA.2 subvariant, which continues to increase in LA County.

For the week ending March 19, BA.2 accounted for 47 percent of sequenced specimens. One month prior, the week ending February 19, BA.2 accounted for only 5 percent of specimens sequenced. The increase in LA County mirrors what is being seen nationally and internationally. 

Worldwide, BA.2 accounts for the vast majority of sequenced cases, and in the U.S., the CDC estimates that as of April 2, BA.2, accounted for 72 percent of sequenced specimens in the preceding week.

To prevent spread and outbreaks at businesses, employers are required to offer free medical-grade masks and respirators (N95, KN95, KF94) to employees working indoors in close contact with other workers, customers, and/or members of the public at all sites where masking indoors is optional. 

At worksites where masking remains required, employers need to provide employees with free, well-fitting medical masks.

Employers are also obligated to offer testing free of charge during work hours to any employee exposed to COVID-19 at work.

In order to reduce transmission at worksites, employers are required to report any cluster of worksite COVID-19 cases to the Department of Public Health. A cluster is three or more laboratory-confirmed cases of COVID-19 at the worksite within a 14-day period. Reports to Public Health should be made as soon as possible and no later than 48 hours after reports or knowledge of at least three cases. Worksites can report a cluster to Public Health online or by phone: (888) 397-3993. 

If Public Health determines that there is an outbreak at a worksite, employees are required to mask both indoors and outdoors if they can’t be socially distanced from each other, and during an outbreak, employees should be provided with free respirators.

“For everyone mourning the loss of a loved one from COVID-19, we extend our deepest sympathies,” said Dr. Barbara Ferrer, PhD, MPH, MEd, director of Public Health. “While the county has made great strides in keeping outbreaks in many sectors low through a number of safety measures, there are millions of vulnerable residents in our communities, many of whom are neighbors, family members, or co-workers. For these individuals, increasing transmission associated with the BA.2 subvariant poses a very real threat. 

“As many of us prepare to gather for upcoming spring holidays, getting vaccinated or boosted, wearing a mask indoors in public places, and testing before and after gathering protects those most vulnerable and helps keep transmission lower across our communities.”

On April 8, Public Health reported 16 additional deaths and 1,263 new positive cases of COVID-19.  

The April 8 positivity rate was 1.2 percent. There are 275 people with COVID-19 currently hospitalized. Testing results are available for more than 11,743,000 individuals, with 22 percent of people testing positive.

Always check with trusted sources for the latest accurate information about novel coronavirus:

• Los Angeles County Department of Public 

  Health: http://publichealth.lacounty.gov 

  /media/Coronavirus/

• California Department of Public Health: 

https://www.cdph.ca.gov/Programs

   /CID/DCDC/Pages/Immunization/

   nCOV2019.aspx

• Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: 

https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-

   ncov/index.html

• Spanish https://espanol.cdc.gov/enes/

   coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html

• World Health Organization 

   https://www.who.int/ health-topics/coron    

   avirus

• LA County residents can also call 2-1-1

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