Increasing Cases, New Variants, and Long COVID Risk: Be Prepared and Vaccinated for a Safer Winter


Los Angeles County is dealing with an increase in COVID-19 transmission signs, which means that extra steps need to be taken and people need to get vaccinated right away.

As the number of cases rises, new variant strains appear, and the risk of long-term COVID stays high, people are being urged to take sensible steps to reduce exposures, spread, and serious sickness.

The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health (Public Health) says that there are an average of 430 new COVID-19 cases every day this week, 50 more than the week before. Home tests are common, but the results aren’t sent to Public Health. This means that the real number of cases in the community is probably higher than the official count.

SARS-CoV-2 concentrations in wastewater offer a more complete picture of COVID-19 transmission. Public Health reveals a 38% rise in concentration compared to last year’s winter surge peak, up from 28% last week and 12% a month earlier on Nov. 15.

In the current reporting period, the number of COVID-positive hospitalizations increased from 462 to 524. The transmission rise is thought to be caused by factors such as holiday parties, greater travel, and more time spent indoors.

Increasing Cases, New Variants, and Long COVID Risk Be Prepared and Vaccinated for a Safer Winter

The Department of Public Health highlights the need to get immunizations on time, notably the new COVID-19 vaccine for 2023-24. Given low vaccination rates and continuous increases in respiratory disease activity, the CDC Health Advisory advises healthcare professionals to deliver influenza (flu), COVID-19, and RSV vaccines.

The COVID vaccination is promoted as a protection against long-term COVID-19, in addition to protecting against severe sickness and hospitalization. According to recent survey data, more than one in every five people in California with a COVID-19 infection had symptoms that lasted three months or more. Vaccination has been shown to protect against this long-term problem.

In recent weeks, the percentage of cases linked to distinct strains has shifted in Los Angeles County, highlighting the dynamic nature of COVID-19. The new vaccination is designed to protect against Omicron XBB strains that are currently in circulation.

COVID-19 hospitalizations in Los Angeles County have consistently increased since early November. Recent CDC statistics through December 2 show a rise to 6.3 new COVID-19 hospitalizations per 100,000 persons, up from 4.8 the previous week. Coronavirus-related emergency department visits have also increased to 4%, up from 3% a month before.

If COVID-19, flu, and RSV transmission continue to grow, the winter respiratory virus season might put a strain on local healthcare systems. The need for updated COVID-19, flu, and RSV vaccinations to minimize this burden is stressed.

A recent CDC advice encourages healthcare practitioners to talk with patients about being vaccinated, getting tested, and utilizing medicines.

The flu vaccination, which is indicated for people aged 6 months and above, can be given alongside the COVID-19 vaccine. Additionally, specific RSV vaccine recommendations are offered based on age and pregnancy status.

Residents with questions about vaccines or testing issues should call the Public Health Call Center at 1-833-540-0473, which is available seven days a week from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.

The phone center can help you schedule vaccination appointments, including in-home immunizations for the elderly. For qualified clients, free telehealth services, including a no-cost prescription for Paxlovid, are also available through the contact center.

In the face of escalating COVID-19 issues, fast and informed action is critical to protect the community’s health and well-being. To effectively navigate this changing terrain, be aware, take measures, and make sure your vaccines are up to date.

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