First published in the Jan. 27 print issue of the Outlook Valley Sun.
There is a sense of optimism among health officials that the worst of the recent Omicron surge in Los Angeles County is behind them with recent case rates down significantly.
The county reported only 18,822 new COVID-19 cases on Tuesday after averaging more than 30,000 new cases daily following New Year’s Day.
La Cañada Flintridge has seen a similar downward trend in coronavirus cases recently. The city, which has more than 20,000 residents, had 788 positive cases from Jan. 1-16 for a daily average of 49 new cases. Since Jan. 17, LCF has averaged 24.7 new cases per day, nearly 50% less than the first half of the month.
The La Cañada Unified School District has not been immune from the surge and has seen 183 cases among students and 31 employees testing positive between Jan. 12-26. Eighty-eight students in grades 7-12 tested positive and 53 of the cases were from La Cañada Elementary.
LCUSD is requiring students and teachers to take a rapid antigen test each week and test negative in order to return to campus the following week through Feb. 6. Families have been receiving at-home test kits from the district to administer the weekly tests, which are then submitted to site administrators before Monday.
Though the data suggests that the county is beginning to recover from the winter surge, health officials urge people to follow health and safety guidelines to continue the trend of lower transmission.
“While we are finally turning a corner on this surge, we will need to remain cautious in order to reduce transmission to a low enough level that it poses less risk for those most vulnerable and less risk for our recovery journey,” Barbara Ferrer, L.A. County Department of Public Health Director, said in a statement Tuesday. “We are in a different place today because we have more effective tools for managing transmission, and these tools allow us to use different strategies for getting through this surge.”
One of those tools is the COVID-19 vaccine, and the county said its data corroborates the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s in the importance of inoculation, especially the booster.
“A recent study released by the [CDC] found that adults who were unvaccinated were five times more likely to get infected when compared with adults who were fully vaccinated and boosted,” the L.A. County Public Health Department said on Saturday. “Another report from the CDC also found that additional booster doses were 90% effective at preventing hospitalization.”
According to the county’s COVID-19 vaccine dashboard, nearly 81% of residents 5 and older have received at least one dose of the vaccine, and that figure is even higher in La Cañada Flintridge, which has 92.2% of individuals in the same age range having received at least one shot as of Monday.
LCUSD also boasts a high vaccination rate with 86.2% of students in grades 7-12 at La Cañada High School inoculated.