Los Angeles County reported nearly 45,000 new COVID-19 cases over the New Year’s weekend with two deaths, health officials said.
LA County reported 23,553 new positive COVID cases Saturday and 21,200 Sunday, officials said. Over 20 percent of those who have taken a test are coming back positive for the virus.
Long lines could be seen at walk-up testing sites throughout LA as take-home tests are flying off pharmacy shelves.
Officials said outdoor activities where people were unmasked for long periods of time, as well as crowded indoor events, could be blamed for the surge in positive cases.
“During this surge, given the spread of a more infectious strain of the virus, lapses can lead to explosive transmission,” said LA County Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer. “Well-fitting and high-quality masks are an essential layer of protection when people are in close contact with others, especially when indoors or in outdoor crowded spaces where distancing is not possible.”
Ferrer added, “Although masks can be annoying and even uncomfortable for some, given that many infected individuals are spreading COVID 1 -2 days before they are symptomatic, the physical barrier tendered by a mask is known to reduce the spread of virus particles.”
Health officials said 1,628 people in LA County have been hospitalized with COVID-19 with 263 in intensive care.
Meanwhile, some students are back to school this week for in-person learning after the holiday break. Los Angeles Unified School District will start requiring COVID testing for all individuals, regardless of vaccination status, during the first week back from the winter break starting Jan. 10.
While COVID testing is available throughout LA County, it could take a few days to actually take a test after securing an appointment because of the after-holiday demand. Others opted to take their chances and stood in long walk-up lines Monday.
Health officials continue to urge people to wear masks, and if possible to upgrade their fabric masks to an N95, KN95 or KF94.