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COVID Positivity Rate Drops Among Students And Staff

LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) — While more schools are reporting new cases since the end of the fall semester, the Los Angeles County Public Health Department reported that the test positivity rate among K-12 schools has decreased from last week.

According to Public Health data,  1,032 K-12 schools in the county reported positive cases from Jan. 9 to Jan. 15 — 55% higher than the 665 schools that reported positive cases during the last week of December 2021.

Of the 595,000 tests conducted at county schools between Jan. 9 and Jan. 15, 11% came back positive, a decrease from the 15% recorded the previous week. While there were 65,000 students and staff that tested positive in that time period, two elementary schools and one high school reported new outbreaks, indicating that the recent cases are from community transmission mostly within schools with active cases. According to Public Health, county officials are working with schools to increase testing capacity.

"Frequent testing can help identify asymptomatic individuals before they have a lot of opportunities to transmit to others, so parents are urged to allow their children to participate in school testing programs," said Public Health Director Dr. Barbara Ferrer. "And everyone infected and exposed will need to follow the school-based isolation and quarantine rules that are meant to reduce school outbreaks."

Guidelines require all infected students and staff to isolate for a minimum of five days, after which asymptomatic patients can return to the campus if they test negative on day five of their isolation. They must also wear a "high grade" mask at all times until 10 days after their positive test or from when their symptoms first appeared.

"Without everyone working together to minimize exposures, there could be more disruptions affecting school communities across the county," added Ferrer.

In L.A. County, officials reported 31,018 new cases with a positive rate of 16.9% in addition to 59 new deaths, one of whom was between the ages of 18 and 29.  Most of the deaths, 56, were people older than 49 years old. Of the 59 deaths, 51 had underlying conditions.

During an interview with CBSLA, Ferrer expressed optimism that the county is amid a plateau of cases and hopes to confirm that assertion when more data is released later this week.

"From where I'm sitting, it looks like we may be plateauing," she said. "We'll know more as we look at the data that comes Thursday through Saturday. Again, this was a week where we had a Monday holiday. We're a little bit behind on testing volumes. But I am very hopeful that we are plateauing."

Ferrer also hopes to see a decline in cases shortly after the plateau.

"Shortly after we plateau, we should start to see that decline we also desperately need," she added. "Don't want to stay this high very long because as you noted high case numbers result in increases in the number of people that need to get hospitalized."


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