L.A. Public Health is advising residents to take COVID-19 safety precautions while celebrating spring holidays such as Easter, Ramadan and Passover.

While the rate of outbreaks in the county have been low, the L.A. Public Health said the holiday season, combined with spring break “could eventually lead to more cases and outbreaks.”

L.A. County has seen an increase in positive COVID-19 cases for the fourth straight day, reporting 1,263 positive cases on Friday after seeing daily numbers fall as low as 530 on Monday, April 4.

L.A. Public Health attributes the increase in cases to the BA.2 coronavirus subvariant, which appeared in 47% of sequenced COVID-19 cases for the week ending on March 19, after seeing merely 5% of sequenced specimens in February a month prior.

Director of Public Health, Dr. Barbara Ferrer said the BA.2 subvariant has the ability to spread 50% faster than the original Omicron variant and although there is two week lag in sequencing reporting, she believes BA.2 is already the dominant strain in L.A. County.

“I think it’s probably already dominant, similar to what the CDC found across the entire country,” Ferrer said in a Public Health briefing on Thursday. “They’re estimating that it’s somewhere between 70% and 80% of what we’re seeing now, in terms of infections are the result of people becoming infected with BA.2.”

Ferrer said that people who had been previously infected with Omicron are seeing immunity to BA.2, differing from this past winter surge where people with prior infections were still testing positive for Omicron.

Because of the prior infections, combined with a 75% vaccination rate in the county and access to therapeutics to treat those who do become infected, Ferrer believes the county could avoid the type of COVID-19 surges that occured in the past.

“I’m hopeful that we won’t see a surge that we experienced over the winter,” Ferrer said. “I’m also a realist. In that hopefulness, I’m also relying on the fact that L.A. County residents, for the most part, have really been doing their part to protect each other and we’re still going to need to do that.”

LA Weekly