LA County health officials urge vigilance ahead of Memorial Day weekend as COVID cases rise and school year races to close

LOS ANGELES (KABC) – Some schools are urging students to wear masks indoors whenever they’ve been informed of an exposure.

It’s part of an effort to get through final exams without too many absences.

As this school year races to a close, Los Angeles County health officials said all signs continue to point to a summer COVID-19 surge.

With close to 900 new cases last week alone, UCLA announced it will reinstate its indoor mask wearing mandate for all students, staff and visitors on its campus.

UC Santa Barbara also announced they’ll be requiring masks in classrooms and other indoor shared spaces on campus starting Friday.

READ ALSO | LA County moves into higher risk category as COVID cases continue to rise

With two weeks left in the academic year, it’s a move LA County health officials applaud.

“None of us want to continue to see a rise in cases,” said LA County Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer. “None of us want to see our healthcare system stressed out or see more people come down with serious illnesses.”

She said cases across the county continue to climb with 6,200 new infections reported on Thursday and nine deaths.

“As we’ve seen throughout the past year, vaccines remain a powerful tool that continues to provide substantial protection against hospitalization and death across all race and ethnic groups,” Ferrer said.

New cases in nursing homes are rapidly rising and most people who are ending up in hospitals are the elderly.

READ ALSO | Public warned of using unlicensed COVID-19 testing sites as cases sharply rise in LA County

While health officials are investigating a presumed case of monkeypox in Sacramento, Ferrer said the risks from monkeypox to residents remains very low and that most of the cases have been in adults who’ve traveled abroad.

“Anyone who’s concerned that they may have been exposed to or has symptoms of monkeypox, particularly the characteristic rash or lesions, should contact their health provider for risk assessment,” she said.

With many people expected to travel for the Memorial Day weekend, Ferrer is urging vigilance.

“Regardless of how you plan to spend the holiday, we ask that you reduce the chance of getting or spreading COVID-19 by taking advantage of the protections we just discussed … vaccinations, masking, testing and therapeutics,” she said.

Ferrer said 21 outbreaks in skilled nursing facilities in just the last week is of high concern.

She’s reminding all of us to wear well-fitting masks when among large crowds at graduations and other end of year events.

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