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15-month-old in LA, youngest fatality of COVID-19

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LOS ANGELES – On the two-year anniversary of the first known COVID-19 case in Los Angeles County, health officials said 91 more people have died from the virus, including a 15-month-old.

According to the county, this is the youngest person to die from the virus since the outbreak began, and it is “a stark reminder” that the virus may affect anyone.

“This is the youngest resident to die of COVID-19 since the pandemic began and a stark reminder that the virus can cause devastating outcomes among those most vulnerable, including young children not yet eligible for vaccinations,” the county said in a statement.

No details about the death were released.

“As we mark the two-year anniversary of the first case detected in L.A. County, I send my heartfelt condolences and wishes of healing to the family who suffered the devastating loss of their small child, and to the countless people who have lost a loved one to this pandemic,” said Director of Public Health Dr. Barbara Ferrer in a statement issued on Wednesday.

“Prioritizing and ensuring safety at schools during a surge is only possible if all those at the school commit to complying fully with public health measures; this cannot be accomplished by staff alone.”

Public Health and the City of Los Angeles have joined forces to protect school-aged children. County schools have introduced a variety of safety precautions, which has resulted in fewer COVID cases among students and faculty.

According to the county, during the week ending January 23, schools administered 555,879 COVID tests and confirmed 40,694 positive instances. The percentage of positive was 7.8 percent.

According to the county, this is a 33% decrease from the previous week, when the positive rate was 11%.

Although there is growing anticipation that the Omicron spike has peaked, COVID-19 deaths from the winter surge remain a serious concern, and hospitals remain overburdened. Officials in Los Angeles County have expressed concern over low percentages of people receiving booster shots and parents vaccinating their children aged 5 to 11.

Vaccination efforts are critical, officials believe, because the Omicron wave may not be the end of the epidemic. Officials also warn that poor vaccination rates among children aged 5 to 11 pose a danger of disease transmission not only within those children, but also in the larger community.

Throughout recent weeks, the number of COVID-19 deaths per day has also increased in the state. Over the last week, an average of 139 deaths per day have been reported, exceeding the statewide peak of 135 deaths per day from the summer Delta surge. More than 78,300 California residents have died as a result of the pandemic.

The number of pandemic-stricken patients in California hospitals appears to be leveling off. As of Tuesday, 15,279 coronavirus-positive individuals had been admitted to hospitals across the state. This is essentially the same as it was a week ago.

According to the county, the majority of the examinations – roughly 70% – are being conducted only by the Los Angeles Unified School District.
Despite a decrease in instances, health officials report a rise in COVID outbreaks at schools, owing mostly to the highly contagious omicron form.

The county said, 11 new reports of school COVID outbreaks were opened between Jan. 16 and 22 – nine in elementary schools, one in a high school, and one in youth sports.

“These numbers remain relatively low given the high numbers of new cases and suggest that schools continue to successfully implement public health measures that reduce spread,” said the county.

The wait time for test results in Los Angeles can be up to a week, but Mayor Eric Garcetti has reassured residents that more access to fast antigen tests will be available shortly, and turnaround times for PCR tests are improving.

“We’ve had two or three encouraging days … testing times will be better,” said Garcetti.

This article contains materials from Los Angeles Times.

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