LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) — California COVID-19 cases continue to rise following the holiday season, as the state Public Health Department announced record-breaking numbers across the state on Wednesday.
Thus far in January, California has reported more than 55,000 new cases per day, matching numbers set during the earliest days of the pandemic in 2020. The Department also reported a 21% positivity rate amongst those getting tested, the highest mark since the pandemic began.
On Wednesday alone, Los Angeles County Department of Public Health reported 26,754 new positive cases of COVID-19, along with 22 additional deaths and 2,240 hospitalized patients. It is the second-highest amount of reported cases in Los Angeles County thus far in the pandemic, second only to New Year's Eve's number of 27,091.
In light of the numbers that have continued to skyrocket to start the new year, the State of California extended the mandatory indoor mask mandate that went into effect on December 15, pushing the completion date from January 15 to February 15.
Testing facilities, medical centers and hospitals have been flooded in recent weeks, as Angelenos rush to get COVID tests following the holiday season. On top of this, Los Angeles County Unified School District schools are requiring a negative test before children return to in-person classes when school begins on January 10.
Ready to get back to normal, many across the Southland are willing to do whatever it takes in hopes of keeping everyone safe, including Venice resident Patty Timkoh, who told CBS reporters, "I'm all for public safety and I want to stay healthy - I want everyone else to stay healthy too."
With the pandemic spanning over the greater part of the last two years, people all over the globe are experiencing "pandemic fatigue." However, if they've learned anything, it's how to roll with the punches. Julia Zaw, who owns the Tortoise General Store, is prepared for whatever steps the government may take next in the face of the ever-rising COVID-19 numbers. "If we have to do lockdown, we'll do it again," she said, "but also if there's limited capacity, we've done that too. We figured it out last year, and that was a learning curve for all of us."
When it comes to learning, California has stated that they won't force schools to close during this most recent surge, the fifth of the Coronavirus pandemic. However, that decision will be up to local authorities.
LAUSD's goal to provide every student with a take-home COVID-19 test before classes began again following winter break has fallen short by a substantial amount, as Tony Thurmond, State Superintendent of Public Instruction mentioned in a press conference. Citing weather and transportation issues as reason for the delay in test delivery, the district has supposedly provided less than half of the student population with a take-home test.
"In Los Angeles County, I've been given estimates that anywhere from 400,000 to 800,00 tests have already been delivered. The need for possibly up to a million or so other tests remain to be delivered in Los Angeles County," Thurmond disclosed.
Students are also required to take part in weekly testing, and will be required to wear face masks of higher quality to help prevent transmission, especially in light of the fact that the dominant Omicron variant is more highly-transmissible than any of the other variants.
Amrit Thadani, mother of a LAUSD student, said she is on board with the latest measures being taken by the district, "I mean they get tested every week. So, I feel they're definitely safer in school."
With all of these guidelines in place, health officials still aren't willing to say things won't take a change for the worse. Dr. Mark Ghaly Secretary for California Health and Human Services said, "Conditions move quickly and there may be a day down the road where we are having a different conversation. We're always humble in the face of COVID, but right now, we are leaning in."
Another parent, Leshane Golden, things that the extreme measures should be taken now, before things get worse. "I would like for them to go back to virtual."
According to LAUSD, the take-home kits will be available for all by Friday, and families are urged to check the district's website to learn where they can get their own.
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