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Los Angeles County Adapts COVID-19 Response Plan to Changing Pandemic Phase

County Health Releases LA County Data On Covid Rates, Wastewater Levels, and Deaths

By Dolores Quintana

The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health (Public Health) has revised its COVID-19 Response Plan to align with the evolving phase of the pandemic and the recent lifting of emergency declarations. While the county is no longer under a Public Health Emergency, comprehensive planning and preparedness efforts are ongoing to safeguard the health of individuals at high risk of severe COVID-19 outcomes and to ensure readiness in case of future increases in transmission.

The updated Response Plan incorporates the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) COVID-19 hospital admission levels, a new framework introduced last month to replace the CDC Community Levels. The classification is based on a 7-day total of COVID-19 hospital admissions per 100,000 people. Los Angeles County is classified as being in the Low Hospital Admission Level, with fewer than ten new admissions per 100,000 people.

Guided by the local CDC Hospital Admission Level, recommendations and requirements will be implemented to mitigate the spread of COVID-19, with particular consideration given to the impact on vulnerable populations. Additionally, Public Health’s COVID-19 Early Alert Metrics, which encompass monitoring of wastewater, variants, emergency department visits, and outbreaks in high-risk settings, play a crucial role in anticipating potential future waves of the virus. At present, all eight Early Alert metrics indicate low levels of COVID-19 activity.

Public Health also monitors 12 preparedness metrics to assess the county’s readiness in responding to changes in COVID-19 transmission. Among these metrics, two are currently categorized as “needs improvement.” These metrics include the sequencing of positive case specimens in the most recent two-week period and the percentage of residents aged 65 and older who have received the bivalent booster. Increasing the sequencing of specimens provides valuable information about emerging variants, while higher booster rates among older residents can significantly reduce severe illness and mortality in this vulnerable population. Only 40% of eligible Los Angeles County residents aged 65 and older have received the booster, while the threshold for “adequate” coverage stands at 60%.

The updated Response Plan includes recommended guidance on masking, testing, and other mitigation measures for individuals, including those who have been exposed to COVID-19 or tested positive. It also provides specific guidance for high-risk sites prone to outbreaks or where populations are more susceptible to severe impacts, such as skilled nursing facilities, healthcare and congregate care facilities, correctional and detention facilities, homeless and emergency shelters, and public transit. The complete response plan can be accessed at ph.lacounty.gov/COVIDresponseplan.

Date of Weekly Report Weekly cases reported

5/31/2023 1,801

5/24/2023 2,157

5/17/2023 2,323

5/10/2023 2,266

SARS-CoV-2 wastewater concentration as a percentage of the Winter 2022-2023 peak concentration value3

5/31/2023 11%

5/24/2023 9%

5/17/2023 10%

5/10/2023 11%

7-day average of the percent of Emergency Department (ED) encounters classified as coronavirus-related3,4

5/31/2023 2.3%

5/24/2023 2.7%

5/17/2023 3.0%

5/10/2023 2.8%

The 7-day average number of COVID-positive hospitalizations

5/31/2023 189*

5/24/2023 191*

5/17/2023 225*

5/10/2023 260

Weekly deaths reported2

5/31/2023 40

5/24/2023 35

5/17/2023 20

5/10/2023 46

2) Weekly case and death counts represent the number of cases and deaths reported for the week ending each Tuesday. The date a case/death is reported by DPH is not the same as the date of testing or death.

3) Time periods covered by each metric: wastewater = week ending each Saturday, with a one-week lag; ED data = week ending each Sunday; hospitalizations = week ending each Sunday.

4) Data for past weeks is subject to change in future reports.

*This value is an undercount due to a reporting transition at the state level and subsequent underreporting from hospitals. Efforts are actively underway to address the underreporting.

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