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Covid Outbreaks Among Unvaccinated LA County Children Linked To School Sports

Health officials in Los Angeles County are reporting an increased spread of Covid-19 among unvaccinated children. As of right now, the officials are mainly connecting the increase to the start of school sports.

Barbara Ferrer, LA County’s Health Director, held a media briefing last week in which she called the initial increases in infections among unvaccinated children “somewhat sobering.” 

“While coronavirus case rates amongst almost all other age groups in the county declined in recent weeks, cases among unvaccinated children rose from 73 per 100,000 in May to 307 cases per 100,000 by August 14th.”

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“Though it’s still low, the COVID-19 hospitalization rate for unvaccinated children is also much higher than the virtually nonexistent hospitalizations among vaccinated children. We anticipate an upward trend in outbreaks as our schools have reopened, but we’re continuing to work hard to prevent, investigate, and manage them as they happen,” Ferrer said.

Between August 16th and August 22nd there were 3,186 new Covid cases reported at K-12 schools, according to the county health department. A large portion of those cases have come from the LA Unified School District, where children are required to be tested weekly. 

LA County has been reporting three Covid-19 outbreaks a week, and each outbreak impacts dozens of students. Ferrer claims that of the 14 school outbreaks the county saw this month about half could be directly tied to school sports. 

Between July 30th and August 20th there were nine different outbreaks among high school dance and cheerleading teams that involved 131 students. Ferrer says that these outbreaks were tied to multi-day indoor camps “which took place outside L.A. County and brought together students from different schools that each abided by different masking policies,” she added.

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The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that LA County cancel all high-risk sports and extracurricular activities, or hold them virtually. However, LA County is seeming to ignore that advice.

As of right now, LA County is relying on masking, quarantine, and testing policies in its schools among students and faculty. Ferrer did say that the county would be changing its guidance to require a negative Covid-19 test from all athletes and staff members within 72 hours of competition. 

“Masks are also required for all participants indoors, regardless of vaccination status. And the county has also been encouraging schools to move practices and games outdoors whenever feasible, and reduce capacity indoors. I do join with you in wishing that it was a lot simpler, and that rules didn’t need to change, but the virus has changed, and we all need some flexibility to adapt to this more dangerous variant,” Ferrer said.

At LAUSD, 6,500 students had to miss school during the first week due to Covid-19 outbreaks. If an unvaccinated student gets infected, the district’s current policy states that the student must quarantine for 10 days, or seven days if they test negative six days after exposure and have no symptoms.  

Currently, only children aged 12 and up can get vaccinated against COVID-19. L.A. County or other city sites make it easier for residents to get the shot without an appointment.

Medical Face Masks

Los Angeles Reinstates Mask Mandate As Delta Variant Cases Continue To Rise 

Los Angeles County has reinstated its indoor mask mandate this weekend due to the continued spreading of the Delta variant of the Covid-19 virus. The reinstatement also comes just one year after Governor Gavin Newsom initially instated an order that closed down most schools in LA County. 

On July 17th 2020, Newsom issued health and safety guidelines that closed down all schools unless a certain list of criteria were met for in-person learning. Exactly one year later on the same date, he reinstated the mask mandate. 

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A majority of California’s public and private k-12 schools had to close, and many critics called out the government for neglecting families that rely on support provided by schools; specifically working parents. 

Reopen California Schools is a social media movement that has spoken out about the disruptions to social development that these children are enduring due to a lack of organization from the government in regards to schooling during the pandemic. 

“Newsom’s decision to close our schools will go down as one of the darkest times in California and U.S. history, as other ‘special interests’ were taken into consideration over children.”

Republican assemblyman Kevin Kiley, who is running in the recall election to replace Newsom this fall, said that Newsom’s school shutdowns did a lot of harm that many don’t even realize. 

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“Today is the one year anniversary of Gavin Newsom’s school shutdown order. You’d be hard-pressed to find any action by any governor that did more harm or for worse reasons.”

Los Angeles County Officials announced last week that they would be reviving the requirement to wear masks in all public settings regardless of vaccination status due to a “rapid rise in Delta variant cases.” 

According to LA County data, the 7-day daily average positivity rate is at 3.17%; about 1,000 new cases a day. The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently confirmed that Delta variant cases were on the rise all throughout the US, and that more serious mask mandates should be enforced nationally. 

The CDC reported that the most recent seven-day moving average of daily new cases for the Delta variant in the US is 26,306. This marks a nearly 70% increase when compared to the previous seven-day average (15,541).

L.A. County Reports Rise In Covid-19 Cases, 99% Of Which Are Among The Unvaccinated 

Los Angeles County health officials reported that Monday marked the fourth consecutive day in which 1,000 new Covid-19 cases have emerged. The officials also claimed that these cases were all appearing among unvaccinated individuals almost exclusively. 

The Department of Public Health for LA County reported 1,059 new cases this Monday. Last Friday they reported 1,044 cases, followed by 1,069 on Saturday, and 1,113 more on Sunday. County Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer released a statement this week on the increase in cases. 

“Over 99% of the COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations and deaths we are seeing are among unvaccinated individuals.”

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These new cases are worrying many experts due to the fact that before this point, the county was doing relatively well in their fight against Covid-19. The week before June 26th, LA county reported an average of less than 250 new cases a day, consecutively. That number has now more than tripled in just two short weeks.

State data has shown that 376 patients had to be hospitalized due to their symptoms; the highest number of hospitalized Covid-19 patients the county has seen since May. Reported deaths still remain low, however, health officials noted that it can take weeks for an increase in viral transmission to reflect in the number of fatalities. 

Areas in LA county where the percentage of fully vaccinated people is high continue to have lower rates of new Covid-19 cases. Throughout the past week the entire state of California has reported an average of 2,100 new cases a day; this is a 124% rise when compared to two weeks ago. 

More than 59% of Californians have received at least one dose of a Covid-19 vaccine, while millions have still neglected to receive their vaccine; either because they’re too young, or have chosen not to get it. 

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Health experts are now labelling the Covid-19 crisis as a “tale of two pandemics,” one in which vaccinated people can enjoy a higher degree of protection, while unvaccinated individuals remain vulnerable and exposed. Dr. Tomás Aragón, state public health officer and director of the California Department of Public Health, recently gave a statement on the importance of getting vaccinated. 

“Although California’s vaccination rates are among the highest in the country, we must stay vigilant against COVID-19 and its variants. That means motivating the remaining Californians to get vaccinated, and encouraging our friends and families too.”

Ferrer added that “the work in front of us is to improve confidence in these vaccines among people who are not yet vaccinated, and we will try lots and lots of different strategies with all of our partners.”

“The most successful strategy to date is making sure that people are getting their information from other people that they trust, and working to build out those teams of folks that are in the neighborhoods that can be trusted and have good information remains one of the most important strategies. So we’ll continue to do that while we make sure that access remains as easy as possible,” she explained.

Positive Coronavirus

LA County Now Has 8 Confirmed Cases Of UK Covid-19 Variant 

Los Angeles County recorded another five cases of the UK coronavirus variant this past Tuesday, bringing the total number of variant cases up to eight for the county. Officials are currently expected to enforce measures to prevent citizens from traveling, however, the past month has left residents hopeless after numerous public establishments that promote close contact have remained open despite California being one of the world’s hot spots for Covid-19. 

The variant is scientifically referred to as B117, and the reason its presence is so concerning is because its more transmissible than the standard Covid-19 virus that we’ve been fighting for the past year, which as we know, is already extremely contagious. Health experts do believe that all current vaccines being distributed in America will likely work against B117, however, curbing the spread is top priority so that we can get everyone vaccinated. 

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California was just beginning to recover after a post-holiday increase in cases, but now the presence of this variant and lack of lockdown procedures being enforced is a major cause for concern. 

Statewide about 159 cases of the UK variant have been detected, but those aren’t the only Covid-19 mutation cases that are raising some red flags among healthcare workers. Around 1,200 cases of two different “west coast variants” of Covid-19 have been reported in the state, according to Governor Gavin Newsom.

LA County Health Director Barbara Ferrer also recently spoke with tht media about the South African coronavirus variant, stating that even though California hasn’t reported any cases of that variant, “that doesn’t mean it’s not there. There’s just no way that the state doesn’t have a fair amount of variants circulating, it’s more of a question of how much and will any of them become dominant.” 

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“It’s unlikely LA County’s latest surge was due to the UK variant, it’s possible there were mutations that were circulating in the state that were already more infectious. We know that at least 50% of our samples have shown the ‘California variant’ already.”

LA County Department of Public Health posted a memo regarding the new mutations and the virus response in general: “COVID-19 surged after Thanksgiving and Christmas travel in November and December. The more people travel, the more interactions they have with individuals outside of their household, the greater the risk of getting and spreading COVID-19. Shared transportation, including travel by air, bus, or rail, can not only put travelers at risk but also all members of the community if infected travelers spread COVID-19 to others after returning to Los Angeles County.”

The B117 variant has been found already in dozens of states; 932 cases have been reported nationwide according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “We are only weeks away from reducing transmission in L.A. County to a level where elementary schools will be allowed by the state to offer in-class instruction, provided they adhere to all State and County directives… Please do your part to continue to slow the spread so that our recovery journey does not suffer a setback,” Ferrer said in a statement. 

Marijuana Leaves

L.A. County To Dismiss Over 66,000 Marijuana Convictions

America is going green, cannabis green that is. Within the past five years states and counties alike have legalized the use of marijuana recreationally. After Colorado made the leap back in 2014, more and more regions in the U.S. have followed in their footsteps after seeing the massively successful economic results of doing so. However, as more American territories begin legalizing, a new debate is emerging regarding the millions of people currently serving prison time for marijuana-related charges.

It’s the same political argument when it comes to eradicating student debt; what about all the individuals who already paid back/are currently paying back their loans? Well, Los Angeles, California is setting a very important precedent for this growing debate regarding recreational marijuana use and those currently incarcerated for something that’s been legalized since 2016 (in California that is). 

Close to 66,000 marijuana convictions made in Los Angeles County will be dismissed within the coming months. Of those cases 4,000 are misdemeanor possession charges and 62,000 are felony convictions for selling and cultivation, and some of the charges date all the way back to 1961, according to California District Attorney Jackie Lacey’s office. 

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“The dismissal of tens of thousands of old cannabis-related convictions in Los Angeles County will bring much-needed relief to communities of color that disproportionately suffered the unjust consequences of our nation’s drug laws. I am privileged to be part of a system dedicated to finding innovative solutions and implementing meaningful criminal justice reform that gives all people the support they need to build the life they deserve,” Lacey said.

Lacey also went on to state that the dismissals will give “conviction relief” to about 53,000 individuals; 45% of which are Latino, 32% black, and 20% white. This relief effort began the moment that California approved Proposition 64 back in November of 2016. When that proposition, which stated the legalization of recreational marijuana use, passed a big part of it stated that individuals with old marijuana convictions/charges would be able to petition the judicial system to expunge their records. 

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Then, two years later, in 2018, the California state Legislature passed AB 1793 which was a bill that then required the state Department of Justice to go through all of California’s crime records and mark past marijuana convictions that would be eligible for either expunging or downgrading to a misdemeanor charge; obviously the Department only went through documents of individuals who were still alive, convicted, or still had the charges on their record. 

AB 1793 leads us to today, as the Department is still looking through past court documents and convictions. They have until July to fully review the list of past charges in order to determine which dismissals and downgrades will be appropriate based off the bill. In 2018 after initial document review the Department determined that more than 218,000 state wide convictions could be eligible for dismissal. 

The 66,000 number comes just from LA County specifically (hence the much larger statewide number). Lacey’s office has gone through those cases as well ,with some collaborative help from the organization Clear My Record; a nonprofit California service that has helped over 85,000 individuals get their marijuana convictions dismissed since 2016. 

Now, the hope for the future is that as the rest of the nation begins opening their minds and legislation to the possibility of becoming a federally legal country, and hundreds upon thousands of individuals will be able to have their criminal records rightfully expunged, and the chance to start a new life.