ROSAMOND — The Antelope Valley School Boards Association had Dr. Robert Gilchick from the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health as its guest speaker at Thursday night’s meeting.
Gilchick provided a COVID-19 update to the association based on the most recent data presented earlier in the day to the media by Director of Public Health Barbara Ferrer.
Southern Kern Unified School District hosted the event at Rosamond Elementary School.
“I’m very sad to say that we had 26 new deaths today (Thursday) and even sadder to say that we are on the verge of another milestone with almost 27,000 persons who have lost their lives since the beginning of this pandemic, just in Los Angeles County,” said Gilchick, who participated via a Zoom video conference.
The daily test positivity rate — the percent of all tests done that are positive — was low, 1.1%, which Gilchick said was good
The seven-day cumulative case rate was 81, which is how the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention rates an area for transmission. That puts LA County in the substantial transmission range.
“If it were over 100, we would be at high transmission; if it were under 50, it would be at modest transmission, which is where we’re aiming to go,” Gilchick said.
A 30-day cumulative age-adjusted case and hospitalization rates by vaccination status and age group showed higher numbers of unvaccinated cases vs. vaccinated cases across all three age groups.
“Because the 12- to 17-year-olds do have a lower vaccine rate as a population … most of the new cases are actually coming from the younger age group and of course mostly from those who are unvaccinated,” Gilchick said.
Approximately 73% of people in LA County are fully vaccinated.
Gilchick also addressed trends in schools since the start of the school year with student and staff cases and student and staff close contacts.
The trend showed a spike when school started in August and a drop as the school year progressed with a small rise at the end of October.
“Cases in the community are basically at a plateau, so really what we attribute all of this to is the hard work that all of your school administrators and school staff are doing to make school as safe as possible and limit transmission as much as possible,” Gilchick said. “And it’s been successful. Kids are in school, they’re staying in school, they’re learning and we haven’t closed any schools down.”
Between Aug. 1 and Nov. 13, Gilchick said the county is averaging about 10 to 12 new outbreaks per week. Many school outbreaks are related to sports teams. The vast majority is in elementary schools where children ages five to 11 only recently became eligible for vaccine.
As of Nov. 14, approximately 64,671,or 7.2%, of five- to 11-year-olds in the county are vaccinated.
“With 900,000 across the county we have a long way to go,” he said.
In oder to list mask requirements for outdoor mega events for more than 10,000 people, the case rates for LA County need to remain at or below moderate transmission rates of less than 50 cases per 100,000 for three consecutive weeks.
“We have to stay there for minimum three weeks to demonstrate that this is stable,” Gilchick said.
Hospitalization rates have to be less than 600 per day for three consecutive weeks. In addition, the county vaccination rate for people ages 12 and older has to be 80% or greater. There also has to be no new variants of concern that threaten vaccine effectiveness.
For indoor events or establishments involving fewer than 1,000 people, all of the above criteria must be met. There must also be vaccine verification in place. In addition, all employees and customers must be fully vaccinated or approved employee exemptions.
Masks are still required for everyone indoors in a school setting under state mandates.
“We can’t be less restrictive than what the state requires,” Gilchick said, adding the county can’t change its requirements until the state does.