By CBSLA Staff

LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) – The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health on Wednesday reported 2,277 new cases of COVID-19 and 38 additional deaths.

More than 5,200 COVID-19 cases have been detected among K-12 students in Los Angeles County over the past two weeks, a number the public health director again called “sobering” today, but she and the county schools superintendent expressed confidence in safety measures being taken on campuses.

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Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer said the cases are largely being detected thanks to aggressive routine screening tests, particularly within the Los Angeles Unified School District, which now accounts for nearly two- thirds of all the COVID testing being conducting across the county.

“We average about 500 cases a day (among students) across L.A. County,” she said. “… The largest portion of those cases are identified through routine screening, and these are really people who are in fact asymptomatic. So it’s a sobering number because it’s large, but it’s actually helpful to be able to identify people who are infected with COVID before they
show symptoms and before they have lots of opportunities … to go ahead and spread that virus.”

She said the large number of cases also leads to more work for the county because all of the patients need to be interviewed so their close contacts can be identified and directed to quarantine.

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“The sobering news for all of us is that with high rates of community transmission … we have a number of people in our school community that are testing positive and that can in fact infect others,” she said. “We have to move quickly to prevent the kind of transmission in schools that will create very large outbreaks, something that’s been done successfully since reopening last fall.”

The rolling daily average rate of people testing positive for the virus in Los Angeles County was 2.5% as of Tuesday, down from 2.9% a week ago.

Ferrer has attributed the recent drop to increased screening tests being done at schools and businesses.

Of all eligible residents in the county aged 12 and older, 65% are fully vaccinated, while 74% have received at least one dose. Ferrer said 91% to 92% of people who receive a first dose also receive their second dose on time, boding well for improvement in the county’s vaccination rate over the coming weeks.

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As of Aug. 22, just 50% of Black residents in Los Angeles County have received at least one dose, with the lowest percentages among those between 12 and 29 years old. Latino/a residents have a rate of 59%, compared with 69% of white residents and 79% of Asians.