As Winter Virus Season Approaches, Testing and Treatment Can Make a Difference for People at Higher Risk

With the winter season approaching, rates of COVID-19, flu, and RSV will likely rise in the coming weeks and in case of infection or exposure, the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health (Public Health) encourages residents to become familiar with testing and treatment options that are available in order to reduce risk for themselves and their loved ones.

Public Health advises that if a person is experiencing respiratory symptoms, such as a fever, sore throat, or cough, that they stay home, test for COVID-19, and if needed, seek treatment.

In general, while most minor respiratory virus infections improve with simple steps—resting, drinking plenty of fluids and taking over the counter medications to help reduce fevers, sore throat and body aches, there are prescription medications that can help reduce the risk of severe illness. . Antiviral medications are available for COVID-19 and flu and for those who are eligible, should be started as soon as possible after symptoms begin.

Paxlovid, the antiviral medication to treat COVID-19 is widely available in Los Angeles County at no cost. Currently there is ample supply of Paxlovid courses provided though the U.S. government, available at Los Angeles County pharmacies, Public Health Centers, and through Public Health telehealth services, provided free to residents through the Public Health Call Center at 1-833-540-0473, open 7 days a week from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Adults and children 12 years and older who test or are suspected positive for COVID, who have underlying health conditions or factors that may result in more severe illness from COVID-19, are eligible to take Paxlovid, which must be started within five days of symptom onset. Public Health encourages everyone to speak with their provider about Paxlovid if they test positive.

Due to the recent commercialization of medications to treat COVID-19, transitioning from federal government supplied doses, patients should check with the provider or pharmacy that they are picking up from about whether they are still getting the product for free. If not, they should ask about the co-pay savings program which they can use if they have commercial insurance. More information can be found at For those eligible for a therapeutic medicine for COVID, public health offers a free telehealth visit and free medication.

A recent study looking at the effectiveness of Paxlovid against Omicron strains showed that there was a 37 percent reduction in hospitalization from a COVID-19 infection and an 84 percent reduction in death among people who completed a course of Paxlovid.

An at-home test can help determine if a respiratory infection is COVID-19. Testing is recommended if a person has respiratory virus symptoms, if they have been exposed to COVID-19, or when they are visiting or going to a gathering with people who are at higher risk for severe illness from COVID-19, such as older family members.

Through Nov. 11, people who have California regulated private health insurance can receive eight free COVID-19 home tests for each person on the policy at local pharmacies. Home tests are also available throughout Los Angeles County, including at libraries, Public Health Centers, food banks, senior centers and other local organizations. A full list of options, including free tests by mail through the federal government, can be found a

Those with respiratory symptoms who test negative for COVID should consider masking indoors around others if they still have symptoms to avoid spreading another respiratory infection, like flu or RSV. It is most accurate to take a second COVID-19 test 48 hours after the first test if respiratory symptoms persist.

When a person is testing negative for COVID-19, yet still has symptoms of a respiratory virus, they may have a flu or RSV infection and should also stay home to prevent the spread of illness. For a flu infection, a doctor can prescribe Tamiflu if appropriate, a treatment that helps to reduce the severity of illness.

The best protection against viruses this winter is vaccination, recommended for all residents six months and older. The updated COVID-19 vaccine is available at pharmacies, Public Health sites, and at community events. Residents can find a convenient location for them and their families to get vaccinated at and get the annual flu vaccine at the same time.

This fall’s COVID-19 and flu vaccines are updated to provide protection for virus strains that are circulating now. In order to have the most up-to-date protection, and for protection to have time to build before holiday events, it is recommended that people schedule a vaccination appointment as soon as possible. As of Nov. 5, over 630,000 residents have received their updated COVID-19 vaccine.

If Los Angeles County residents have questions about vaccines, where to get vaccination or how to get tested, the Public Health Call Center remains open seven days a week from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. to answer COVID-19-related questions at 1-833-540-0473. Public Health staff can connect callers with resources and help people schedule vaccination appointments, including in-home vaccinations for those that are homebound.

In Los Angeles County, based on data through Oct. 28, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Hospital Admission Level is Low at 3.3 new COVID-19 hospitalizations per 100,000 people.

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.


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 do not include Long Beach and Pasadena; daily average deaths include Long Beach and Pasadena.

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

  • Los Angeles County Department of Public Health:

  • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention – Spanish:

Cases through 12:00pm 11/6/2023


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