During Back-to-School Season, Testing, Hygiene, Reporting Exposures Recommended to Limit COVID-19 Transmission

While the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health (Public Health) reports small increases in COVID-19 indicators over the past four weeks indicating increased transmission, overall metrics remain at a low level of concern and spread can be limited in schools, health care facilities and elsewhere with simple precautions.

Even when rates of COVID-19 are low, the back-to-school season can bring greater risk of COVID-19 spread. Last August and September, TK-12 schools reported more than 1,100 COVID-19 clusters, groups of potentially connected cases, over an eight-week period. To help reduce transmission among students and staff, Public Health is working with schools to distribute COVID-19 tests and updated information about COVID-19 safety precautions. Public Health encourages staff and students, especially those with recent exposures, travel or any symptoms, to take an at-home antigen test the night before or the morning they return to school.

Families can help reduce transmission risk by making sure they talk to their children about common safety protections, like washing hands frequently, covering coughs, and following isolation and close contact guidance if children are infected or exposed. Parents should make sure their children are up to date on their vaccines and talk with their child’s health care provider about getting vaccinated for both COVID-19 and flu this fall.

If a student tests positive for COVID-19 and was at school two days prior to a positive test or the start of COVID symptoms, parents should immediately inform school officials. Students and staff who test positive for COVID-19 must stay home and isolate regardless of symptoms and vaccination status. While those infected with COVID are required to isolate for a minimum of five days, it is not necessary to stay home away from others after an exposure to COVID unless you have symptoms and/or test positive after an exposure. Individuals who have been exposed should test as soon as possible after an exposure and again three to five days after exposure. Masking for 10 days after an exposure when indoors around others remains a best practice. Those who develop symptoms and test negative should repeat the test after 48 hours and remain away from others while symptomatic. Children who are sick should not attend school.

Since masking offers additional protections in settings where transmission is possible, those who are older, immunocompromised or with serious health conditions may want to use a well-fitting respirator mask when indoors, especially in areas that are crowded and/or poorly ventilated. No one can be prohibited from wearing a mask in any setting, and schools and businesses are allowed to require masking of both their employees and visitors/customers. However, with relatively lower rates of transmission and effective tools to reduce illness severity associated with COVID, masks are no longer required by a health officer order in most settings in Los Angeles County. Worksites need to comply with Cal/OSHA masking requirements for workers who have been exposed and during outbreaks.

As of August 11, 2023, the Los Angeles County Health Officer Order requiring employees in health care facilities to mask when providing care or when in patient care areas will be rescinded. Health care workers are strongly recommended to mask, in particular while providing care to vulnerable patients, including those who are older or immunocompromised, and to stay up to date on COVID-19 vaccines. Individual health care facilities may maintain a masking policy.

This week, the World Health Organization named EG.5 as a variant of interest. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Nowcast modeling projects that for the week ending Aug. 5, EG.5 accounted for the largest proportion of COVID infections in the United States and was the second most dominant strain in the U.S. region that includes the state of California.

In Los Angeles County, Public Health tracks measured, rather than modelled, data which lags 3-4 weeks due to the time it takes for specimens to be sequenced. For the week ending July 8, EG.5 accounted for 7 percent of cases. COVID-19 strain XBB.1.5 accounted for 25 percent of sequenced specimens and XBB.2.3 accounted for 15 percent of sequenced specimens. XBB.1.16 and XBB.1.9.2 each accounted for 13 percent of sequenced cases.

COVID-19 strains currently circulating are descendants of Omicron XBB and it is expected that current protections will remain effective to prevent severe illness or death.

For residents who are concerned that they or a loved one have been exposed to COVID-19 or are seeking resources for increased protection, many options remain available in Los Angeles County. The Public Health Call Center is open seven days a week, from 8:00 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. The free service will connect callers with a person who can answer their questions, coordinate free telehealth care to receive COVID-19 treatment and help make a vaccination appointment, including for people who are homebound. The number is 1-833-540-0473.

Los Angeles County is in the Low Hospital Admission Level with 3.4 weekly COVID-19 hospital admissions per 100,000 people, reported on August 7 for the seven-day period ending July 29. The CDC has replaced COVID-19 Community Levels with Hospital Admission Levels, which can help individuals and communities decide which prevention actions they can take based on the most recent information.

Public Health reports COVID-19 data weekly. The following table shows case, wastewater, emergency department, hospitalization, and death data in Los Angeles County over the past four weeks.

Public Health now reports case and death counts by episode date and date of death, a change from previously reported weekly counts that represented the number of cases and deaths newly confirmed as COVID-associated for the particular week.


Date of Weekly Report





Daily average cases





SARS-CoV-2 wastewater concentration as a percentage of the Winter 2022-2023 peak concentration value





Daily average of the percent of Emergency Department (ED) encounters classified as coronavirus-related





Daily average number of COVID-positive hospitalizations





Daily average deaths





Percent of all deaths due to COVID-19





All daily averages are 7-day averages. Data for past weeks are subject to change in future reports. Time periods covered by each metric: cases = week ending each Saturday; wastewater = week ending each Saturday, with a one-week lag; ED data = week ending each Sunday; hospitalizations = week ending each Saturday; deaths = week ending each Monday, with a three-week lag; death percentage = week ending Monday, with a one-week lag.

Case data is presented by episode date, an approximation of the date the illness began, and death data is presented by date of death. This is a change from how case and death data were presented prior to July 26, 2023, which was by date of report. Daily average cases and deaths do not include Long Beach and Pasadena.

A wide range of data and dashboards on COVID-19 from the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health are available on the Public Health website at http://www.publichealth.lacounty.gov/COVIDdata including:

Always check with trusted sources for the latest accurate information about novel coronavirus:

  • Los Angeles County Department of Public Health:


Cases through 12:00pm 8/7/2023


Total Cases

Laboratory Confirmed Cases (includes LB and Pas through 6/27/23; excludes LB and Pas after 6/27/23)


Deaths (includes LB and Pas)


Cases by Age Group (Los Angeles County Cases Only-excl LB and Pas)

– 0 to 4


– 5 to 11


– 12 to 17


– 18 to 29


– 30 to 49


– 50 to 64


– 65 to 79


–  over 80


–  Under Investigation


Cases by Gender (Los Angeles County Cases Only-excl LB and Pas)

–  Female


–  Male


–  Other


–  Under Investigation


Cases by Race/Ethnicity (Los Angeles County Cases Only-excl LB and Pas)

–  American Indian/Alaska Native


–  Asian


–  Black


–  Hispanic/Latino


–  Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander


–  White


–  Other


–  Under Investigation


Hospitalization (Los Angeles County Cases Only-excl LB and Pas)

–  Hospitalized (Ever)


Deaths by Race/Ethnicity (Los Angeles County Cases Only-excl LB and Pas)

–  American Indian/Alaska Native


–  Asian


–  Black


–  Hispanic/Latino


–  Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander


–  White


–  Other


–  Under Investigation