Los Angeles County residents can now easily keep an eye on the spread of winter viruses, including flu, COVID-19, and RSV, thanks to a new Respwatch Surveillance Dashboard launched by the Public Health Department. The dashboard, updated on Fridays, offers an at-a-glance view of the uptick in respiratory viruses, which has been modest but marks the onset of the winter sickness season, according to official reports.
Though still below last year's figures, the dashboard revealed worrying increases. RSV jumped from 13.4 to 15.1 percent, COVID-19 climbed from 7.4 to 8.9 percent, and flu went up from 6.7 to 7.9 percent for the weeks ending November 18 and November 25. Public health officials are keeping a close eye on COVID-19, given that it tends to result in more severe outcomes compared to other viruses and its tendency to quickly evolve.
In response to the heightened risk, the Public Health Department has rolled out a consolidated COVID-19 dashboard that combines various metrics once scattered across different online locations. The aim is to offer a one-stop-shop for monitoring the pandemic's trajectory in the county. As for the vaccines, Los Angeles County has already administered 860,000 doses of the updated COVID-19 vaccine. Officials are urging everyone, starting at 6 months of age, to get vaccinated, citing it as the strongest shield against hospitalizations and serious illness.
The county isn't just stopping at vaccines. Free COVID-19 home tests are being distributed at community points like libraries and schools, with additional kits available through federal allocations. Residents are encouraged to utilize these resources, particularly if symptomatic, attending gatherings, or interacting with high-risk individuals. Those over 60, pregnant between 32-36 weeks, or parents of infants under 8 months old should inquire about an RSV vaccine. Importantly, those testing negative for COVID-19 but showing symptoms aren't out of the woods and should consider they could have the flu or RSV and should continue to mask up indoors.
Treatment options like Paxlovid are available for COVID-positive patients with underlying conditions that might worsen their illness, and they are urged to start treatment within five days of symptom onset. A significant stockpile of the antiviral medication is available for free throughout the county. For assistance, including scheduling vaccine appointments, residents can contact the Public Health Call Center at 1-833-540-0473. According to the latest CDC data, Los Angeles County’s hospital admission level is currently 'Low,' with 4.8 new COVID-19 hospitalizations per 100,000 people, a statistic that's indicative of the ongoing efforts to control the virus spread.