Vaccine mandates across the county for many indoor establishments, expanded access to vaccine boosters, and safety plans for businesses and schools have become the new normal in Los Angeles. Keeping track of changing protocols can be challenging, but it’s essential to follow the latest across the county to keep yourself safe and maintain your access to safe spaces.
This complete guide to coronavirus in Los Angeles will give you everything you need to know about the current situation and what to expect in the coming months around COVID restrictions in Los Angeles.
COVID-19 Update In Los Angeles
Los Angeles coronavirus positive testing rates, COVID deaths and hospitalizations are all down since peaks in the winter and summer months of 2021. Experts predict similar trends as long as vaccination rates continue to climb and protocols remain in place to protect the most vulnerable. You can find additional up-to-date data about Covid-19 in Los Angeles here.
COVID Variants: What you Should know
As the virus persists and continues to spread throughout the population, new variants will crop up. This is normal. The CDC and World Health Organization (WHO) have been meticulous about tracking variants and how they may differ from the original strain of SARS-CoV-2.
Most of the agencies’ efforts have been focused on the Delta variant. The Delta variant, first identified in India, spreads faster, is more contagious and can cause more severe symptoms than others. Physicians have found that some proven COVID mitigation strategies have proven less effective when treating patients infected by the Delta variant.
While several variants have been identified since COVID-19 began its spread, not all meet the criteria for variants of concern. According to the WHO, three additional variants of concern on top of the Delta variant are being monitored globally.
These variants are either more highly transmissible, are more challenging to treat or present differently than what we already know about COVID-19.
The CDC emphasizes that getting the vaccine is still the best defense against any new variants.
COVID-19 symptoms vary from person to person. At the start of the pandemic, symptoms were more flu-like in their presentation rather than resembling the common cold, although that has changed with scientists evaluating more mild cases of COVID-19. It’s much more difficult now to distinguish between a cold vs. flu vs. COVID without testing.
The most common symptoms today include:
- Shortness of breath/difficulty breathing
- Muscle/body aches
- Fatigue/general malaise
- Loss of taste/smell
- Sore throat
- Congestion/runny nose
COVID-19 Testing in Los Angeles
COVID-19 testing in Los Angeles remains easy to access for residents. Reliant offers three different COVID-19 diagnostic tests, all nasal swabs. If you’re wondering what to expect from a COVID test in Los Angeles, that will vary somewhat based on the test you take.
The test you choose to book will depend on your unique case, what you’re using the test for, even whether you have symptoms.
COVID-19 Antigen FIA:
This rapid COVID test offers results available within an hour. Antigen tests are most accurate when the chances of a positive result are high. Some airlines and destinations will not accept antigen tests as proof of testing if you’re planning travel, so you’ll need to check with those destinations before assuming so.
COVID-19 Accula Rapid NAAT PCR:
The rapid COVID test offers results available within an hour, often by the 30-minute mark. While it follows similar technology to the gold standard of testing, the RT-PCR is not approved yet by some airlines and destinations as proof of testing. Always check with your destination to determine which test to take to allow your travel to move forward, as some have begun to accept rapid PCR tests.
This rapid PCR test offers results between 24-36 hours on average and is the test of choice for travelers looking to meet more strict requirements set by airlines and destinations. The test is highly accurate and is now covered by some insurance providers.
Where to get a COVID test in LA
Outside of your regular physician’s office, COVID-19 Los Angeles testing sites vary from walk-up clinics to appointment-only facilities. Reliant’s three tests are available at urgent care locations in Los Angeles, including a convenient LAX Airport Area facility for travelers looking for travel screenings. Same-day and next-day appointments are typically available across testing sites.
The vaccine remains the best shot at preventing severe illness and death from COVID-19, no matter the variant. All three vaccine types are available throughout Los Angeles County, with booster shot availability expanding week by week. The CDC recommends all three as safe and effective measures against COVID-19.
The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine is currently available to those 5 years of age and older. It is now the only option that the FDA has approved for people 16 and older. The shot is given in 2 doses, 21 days apart. You will be considered fully vaccinated two weeks after the second shot.
The Moderna vaccine is currently available to those 18 years of age and older. It is given in 2 doses, 28 days apart. You will be considered fully vaccinated two weeks after the second shot.
Johnson & Johnson Shot
Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen vaccine is currently available to those 18 years of age and older. It is the only CDC-recommended vaccine available that is given in one dose. You will be considered fully vaccinated two weeks after your shot.
COVID-19 Booster Shots
Boosters for all three vaccines are currently available and recommended for certain populations. For those who have received either the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine at least six months ago, you are eligible for a booster shot if you are:
- 65 and older
- 18+ in a long-term care setting
- 18+ with underlying medical conditions
- 18+ in a high-risk setting
- 18+ and were fully vaccinated at least six months ago
Anyone 18 years of age and older who received the Johnson & Johnson shot at least two months ago is currently eligible for a booster.
COVID-19 Vaccines for Children
At this time, the Pfizer shot is the only vaccine available to children ages 5 and up, with recent emergency FDA approval for the 5-11 age group. For children unable to get vaccinated, it is important for them to mask up, especially around those who may be unvaccinated.
Can you still get COVID-19 after vaccine?
No vaccine is 100% effective, and it is impossible to rule out infection as long as there is community spread. Data so far has shown that while it is possible that you can still get COVID-19 post-vaccination, fully vaccinated people are less likely to become infected.
Most importantly, fully vaccinated people are much less likely to come down with severe complications from COVID.
How common are breakthrough COVID-19 infections?
It is difficult to measure the frequency of breakthrough COVID-19 cases, and available studies have shown varying data. One study that looked at 4 million fully vaccinated people in the first half of 2021 found that about 1 in 5,000 came down with a breakthrough infection.
What are some symptoms of a COVID-19 breakthrough case?
Symptoms of a COVID-19 breakthrough case in a fully vaccinated person are typically much milder than symptoms in the unvaccinated, particularly when it comes to the Delta variant. Those symptoms can include headache, sneezing/runny nose, sore throat and a loss of smell.
How long could breakthrough COVID-19 symptoms last?
In most mild breakthrough cases, symptoms resolve within a few weeks. Studies have shown that the vaccine reduces the risk of long-haul COVID symptoms and complications after infection.
Current COVID-19 Restrictions in LA County
Come November, a new mandate will go into effect requiring proof of vaccination at certain indoor establishments in the city of Los Angeles. That includes bars, shops, gyms and salons. Anyone attending large outdoor events will also need to show proof of vaccination or a negative COVID test.
Los Angeles COVID restrictions outside of the city but within the county are limited to bars, breweries, wineries, distilleries, nightclubs and lounges. Those establishments are required to check that patrons are fully vaccinated by November 4.
How to keep kids in school safe from COVID-19
As schools across the country reopen, including Los Angeles County, protocols have been put into place to keep kids in school safe from COVID-19. In Los Angeles County, those protocols include:
- Regular testing schedules: Some districts are offering weekly testing of unvaccinated students to identify infections more effectively.
- Positive case protocols: Students who test positive must stay home for ten days after that positive result even if they are not showing symptoms. If they show symptoms, students who test positive must stay home until symptoms improve or have not had a fever for 24 hours.
- Contract tracing: In the case of a positive COVID test, the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health is notified within 24 hours, and contact tracing begins to identify any close contacts with that student. Students who are vaccinated may not need to quarantine even in a close contact situation.
To reduce exposure to COVID-19, the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health recommends the following for schools within the district:
- All students should be masked unless they are actively eating or drinking.
- Maintain seating charts across environments to make contact tracing easier.
- Use outdoor settings as much as possible, particularly during lunch, PE and recess.
- Avoid pod/face-to-face seating in the classroom.
- Promote social distancing outside of the classroom.
- Provide hand washing/sanitizing opportunities for students throughout the day.
- Share information with parents about the importance of mask use and these measures.
Maintaining a Healthy Work Environment During the COVID-19 Pandemic
As some workers return to the office, it’s important to follow some key guidelines to keep workers safe and to keep those offices open.
COVID-19 Workplace Guidelines for Los Angeles County
The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health has set several guidelines for employers within the county to follow to keep employees safe:
- Encourage vaccination.
- Post COVID safety precautions upon entry to the business.
- Wear face masks indoors unless actively eating or drinking.
- If an employee is unvaccinated, suggest additional safety measures, such as double masking, respirators or face shields.
- Educate employees about safety protocols and COVID symptoms.
- Implement a screening process to catch infections.
- Comply with reporting requirements around positive cases.
- Improve ventilation throughout the office.
- Support hand hygiene.
- Clean and disinfect frequently used surfaces regularly.
- Reinforce paid leave policies.
- Offer remote work options for unvaccinated or high-risk employees.
- When possible, support physical distancing by offering outdoor lunch options, staggering employee breaks, and posting signage about social distancing.
Return to work plan COVID-19
Businesses must also have a plan in place for employees returning to work after a confirmed COVID infection or possible exposure to someone with COVID.
Unvaccinated, symptomatic employees who have tested positive for COVID must follow the county’s required isolation period. They may return to work following that isolation period ten days after symptoms first started if symptoms have improved and if they have not had a fever for 24 consecutive hours.
Those without symptoms who have tested positive must still stay home for ten days if they become symptomatic.
Any employee with symptoms that may/may not be COVID-related may return to work if they can show a negative COVID test and/or their healthcare provider determines they do not have COVID. They should also be symptom-free for at least 24 hours before returning to work.
COVID-19 Protections in the Workplace
Under Los Angeles County guidelines, employers must support safety measures to keep their employees safe during the pandemic. That includes access to sick leave if you test positive for COVID or must take care of an immediate family member who has tested positive for COVID and paid time off to receive the COVID vaccine if you are unvaccinated.
What you should do if your employees are exposed to COVID-19
Employees exposed to COVID-19 in a close contact situation should quarantine for a period determined by their local safety plan.
The CDC recommends 14 days as most cautious, but Los Angeles County recommends ten days if self-monitoring shows no symptoms within that time. Employees should have access to telework if they are sent home to quarantine and are not symptomatic.
Tips for Keeping Your Workplace Safe during COVID-19
The county’s guidelines for keeping the workplace safe represent basic measures employers should take to keep a workplace safe during the COVID-19 pandemic. Additional tips from the CDC include:
- Regular hazard assessments to identify problem spots in the workplace
- Make requirements on the types of masks to be used indoors
- Efforts to reduce social interaction, especially indoors
- Break areas that promote social distancing
- Employee trainings on how to handle the first sign of symptoms
- Single-use snack items rather than communal kitchen spaces
- Reminders for employees to bring their own water
- Information sharing around where to get vaccinated for ALL employees
- Regular virtual health checks
Though California has become the state with the lowest transmission rate in the country, it doesn’t mean that we’re in the clear yet. Regular testing, symptoms assessments and following LA county protocols are still important to stop the spread. Book an appointment to schedule a COVID test in Los Angeles or for an exam if you’re exhibiting any Coronavirus symptoms.
Protect yourself with the facts around COVID-19.
Can you get COVID-19 from a vaccine?
A vaccine cannot give you COVID-19. In the case of mRNA vaccines, the shot triggers an immune response in the body, the science of which has been studied for decades. The vaccine can help prevent new variants from forming and protect you against the worst complications of COVID.
What should I do if I’ve been in close contact with someone who tested positive for COVID-19?
If you are unvaccinated, the CDC recommends that you quarantine if you’ve been in close contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19. If you are fully vaccinated, you do not need to quarantine unless that person is showing symptoms.
Either way, get tested within a week of exposure and remain masked for up to 14 days after exposure or until you have a negative test result.
How long must I quarantine if I test positive for COVID-19?
If you are not showing symptoms, wait at least ten days following a positive test for COVID-19 before ending your quarantine. Your local health authorities will have additional guidance for you on completing a quarantine before that 10-day mark if you test negative within that time.
Are people who have had COVID-19 immune to reinfection?
People who have had COVID-19 are not immune to reinfection, although reinfection is rare. Studies so far show that antibodies can protect the body from reinfection for at least six months from the point of infection.
How long does immunity last after COVID infection?
Antibody testing up to this point shows that immunity lasts for at least six months after an active COVID infection. More research is needed to determine the longer-term effects of COVID infection on the body.
How long after getting infected will COVID-19 antibodies show up in the test?
Current research shows that antibodies can take anywhere from 1-3 weeks to show up on a test after infection. This is why antibody tests are not an effective test in diagnosing current infections.
Can you get COVID again?
While rare, reinfection can happen following full recovery from COVID. Scientists are still learning more about who is most at risk for reinfection, how likely it is and what reinfection means for that person’s immunity.
Is LAX open during the pandemic? Can I travel during the holidays?
LAX is open during the pandemic, and you may travel during the holidays. Always keep up to date with any rules and regulations put in place by both the airline and your destination, as you may be subject to vaccine or testing requirements. If you are in need of a last-minute rapid COVID test for travel, stop by Reliant’s conveniently located urgent care center at LAX.