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COVID Surge Continues For Southland, Experts Say Don't Panic

NORTH HOLLYWOOD (CBSLA) - There is no question that coronavirus cases are skyrocketing across the Southland.

Los Angeles County Health announced a daily record of more than 37,000 new COVID cases along with 30 additional deaths.

As a result, it's becoming increasingly difficult for families to take care of their loved ones who are testing positive.

"Families are facing major disruptions trying to care for those infected or quarantining … and for so many it's really hard right now to get tested and to sort through the changing guidance," LA County public health director Dr. Barbara Ferrer said.

Despite the grim outlook, health experts see a reason for hope.

Although hospitalization numbers have jumped, LA County said that they're still much lower than previous surges. The health department also said there are fewer patients sick with COVID-19 in the intensive care units.

While the Omicron variant is undoubtedly more contagious than the delta strain, experts believe it is less severe.

Nevertheless, the torrent increase in cases continues to create panic and caution.

"If you have a ton of transmission like we have now it affects everybody's workforce," Ferrer said. "Everybody is short-staffed. Just about every business is facing staffing issues and certainly hospitals and healthcare providers are facing staffing issues (too)…."

At-home rapid tests are still hard to find at drugstores. Most are telling customers they're all sold out.

Moreover, LA County announced on Thursday it's putting on hold its program to mail at-home testing kits to residents with symptoms or who have been exposed.

The county is hoping to offer the kits in person at various testing sites. It's unclear when that may go into effect and where the kits will be offered.

With just a couple days before school resumes, LAUSD is pushing all students and staff to get tested.

The nation's second largest school district held several testing sites on Thursday. Several parents took to social media to say they were able to get in and out without issues.

But others were not as fortunate.

Stephanie Harris, whose two kids who attend Monlux Elementary in North Hollywood, was turned down twice on Thursday.

"We came earlier but the line was rather long so we decided to try back about a half hour ago and we've been waiting," Harris said. "It looks like we've been turned back since they're full for the day."

As a result, LAUSD announced on Thursday that students and parents can pick up at-home testing kits at any of the district's 63 pick up sites.

Testing sites for the public also had stretched-out waiting lines. In addition, people are also waiting just to get test results.

LA County health officials claim they're aware of the backlog.

On the other hand, LA County is asking the public not to show up at emergency rooms to get tested as they have been increasingly busy during this surge.

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