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Rise in cases driven by new contagious subvariant

by Steven Felschundneff | steven@claremont-courier.com

Public health officials cautioned recently that rising COVID-19 cases and a climbing positivity rate indicate another outbreak could be coming.

On Wednesday the county reported 1,146 new cases, the highest daily count since the waning days of the Omicron surge. Additionally, the positivity rate has jumped to 2.8% after hovering around 1% for most of February and March.

Fortunately, for the time being, the jump in cases has yet to result in a corresponding increase in hospitalizations, with just 230 people currently hospitalized in L.A. County. Deaths have also been modest with 15 reported on Wednesday.

The current spike in cases is being driven by the Omicron subvariant BA.2, which has been spreading quickly in Europe and now on the east coast of the United States. In response to a recent 50% increase in cases, on Monday Philadelphia health officials began requiring masks to be worn indoors.

The last time the COURIER published a coronavirus update on March 4, the top news was the end of all indoor masking requirements in the county. However, public health highly recommended that people continue to mask up in certain high risk environments such as crowded indoor spaces.

“Under the modified order, masking indoors is strongly recommended but not required regardless of one’s vaccination status in most settings. Under federal and state guidelines, masking will still be required on public transit, in emergency shelters, at all health care settings, in correctional facilities, homeless shelters and long-term care facilities,” the COURIER reported at that time.

Public health officials say people should continue to abide by familiar safety measures, masking, social distancing and isolating if feeling sick, As students return following spring break.

“Given recent increases in cases of COVID, anyone with illness symptoms needs to stay home and get tested to be sure they aren’t infected,” a public health official said. “Masking and being fully vaccinated and boosted, if eligible, are also both strongly recommended and can prevent outbreaks, which typically increase after holidays with many gatherings.”

Since our last report seven weeks ago, the county reports 1,037 new cases in Claremont, 105 of which were recorded in the last week. The city’s cumulative total is now 7,062. Sadly, five more of our neighbors have died from COVID-19, bringing the total mortality here to 86.

 

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