As Los Angeles sees a spike in Covid-19 cases due to the highly-contagious Omicron variant, the city is now asking Angelenos that test positive for the virus to quarantine for at least five days.
"You can leave quarantine if you have a negative test on or after day 5, and if you haven’t had a fever for 24 hours and your symptoms are improving. Without a test, you should quarantine for ten days. That guidance is critical to the lives of everybody in the city," LA Mayor Eric Garcetti said.
LA County has seen a seven-day average of 24,000 Covid-19 cases among vaccinated and unvaccinated residents. Aside from a few city and county-run testing sites, and pop-up locations, the county is making at-home testing kits available for free thru their website.
Speaking to reporters at the Los Angeles Fire Department on Thursday, officials said that despite the rising cases and some 800 quarantined police and fire department staff, services and responses are not impacted. Over 80% of LAPD and LAFD members are fully vaccinated.
Garcetti, who tested positive for Covid-19 himself last November, also stressed that despite the high number of positive cases, hospitalizations and deaths have stayed low since most of the infections involved people who have been vaccinated.
"It makes a huge difference if you are vaccinated or boosted. We know Omicron is not that severe. That is the good news. We’re seeing hospitalizations have gone up dramatically but they’re nowhere they were at the peak a year ago. We had more than 8,000 people hospitalized; it’s about 2200 right now and our ICU, we have about 130 people when we had as many as 800 people. So there's shorter hospital stays and few people in the ICU," Garcetti noted.
While there are no business shutdowns or drastic health orders, a few event capacity limits have been put in place. According to Garcetti, data in other countries show that following Omicron surges, cases had steeply declined.
"We are at a different point. If the evidence is the same in South Africa, the UK, we will see this surge peak maybe at the end of this week or mid next week and it should come down pretty rapidly as well and again what we’ve seen in hospitals, as well not minimizing what it is to be a healthcare worker, it is a radically different moment. I think we can get through this quickly I know the Super Bowl, we talked about it this year, I know that will happen here and we’ll be able to have a great Super Bowl celebration. There’s no evidence anywhere else in the world that this is something that will last for months."
Despite the confidence that the Super Bowl will go on as planned next month, the National Football League is exploring alternate sites. Meanwhile, the Omicron surge has already postponed this month's Grammy Awards as well as several Los Angeles-based award shows.