A STUBBORN VIRUS  Although not comparable to previous numbers, with an average of 217 positive cases per day, covid-19 is still an issue.
A STUBBORN VIRUS Although not comparable to previous numbers, with an average of 217 positive cases per day, covid-19 is still an issue.

Covid-19 continues to challenge public health

Although most pandemic-era measures have been pulled back, covid-19 is still present and continuing to evolve into more rapid-spreading variants.

Even three years after its initial uproar, covid-19 and its evolving variants linger.

The height of the pandemic was during the week of Jan. 15, 2022, with cumulatively 150,674 new hospital admissions. The current numbers of hospital admissions and positive cases do not compare to previous numbers. 

However, the numbers of positive cases are still prevailing. According to Los Angeles County’s Public Health website, on average, about 217 positive cases are reported each day. 

Although multiple vaccines have already been widely distributed, viruses evolve. This evolution leads them to become immune to the defenses that the original vaccines provide. The most recent cases aren’t originating from the SARS-COV-2 virus, covid-19’s origin, but instead from a variant of omicron referred to as EG.5. 

Due to the public’s waning immunity to the virus, EG.5 is catching faster than other variants being observed and is accounting for 17 percent of positive cases. 

A subvarient of Omicron, EG.5 affects the lower respiratory tract and causes cold-like symptoms, such as a runny nose and sore throat. Like previous variants, it especially affects elderly people with weaker immune systems.

School nurse Ms. Juana Mota considers LAUSD’s covid-19 policy effective. This policy requires students and administrators who have tested positive for covid-19 to stay in isolation for a minimum of five days. Thereafter, they must provide a negative test result and display no symptoms of the virus before returning to campus. For the following three days, the student or administrator is required to wear a mask.

“The protocol definitely helps because isolation has always shown that it works,” Ms. Mota said. “I know that we are trending up in covid cases, but obviously the numbers don’t compare to what we were having during the pandemic.” 

This is majorly due to the cooperation of students, staff and the community with public health regulations. 

However, throughout LAUSD, there have been roughly 74 reported positive cases among students and staff in the past week. 

As people have gotten comfortable without masks, there has been an uptrend in cases. While masks were still being worn and enforced in March of 2022, weekly hospital admissions were down to about 18,000, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. During the summer and winter of 2022, cases spiked once again to approximately 44,000.

“The state should mandate to a certain extent the use of masks for any person who is affected,” junior Carolina Oganesyan said. “Whoever is sick should be required to take a covid test and wear a mask because it would create a safer environment.”

During July this year, there were about 7,000 new weekly covid-19 hospitalizations in the United States. As of September, there was a general upward trend with numbers peaking at 20,000, surpassing the number of cases in March of 2022.  

While the probability that the county might undergo a lockdown once again is slight, the possibility still remains. If communities do not have safety measures in place, and covid cases rise matching the levels of the pandemic, this could once again become disastrous.  

“In my personal opinion, I don’t think another lockdown will happen,” Mota said. “I think people are being more cautious, but you never know.”

There are mixed feelings towards lockdowns and whether we should take this precautionary measure again, even though it has proven to be effective.Regardless, many scientists, including infectious disease specialist Dr. Russell Klein, stress that people shouldn’t let their guard down. It is uncertain how numbers will progress and what variants can develop next.

The abridged version of this article appeared in the Fall 2023 print edition. This is an uncut version.

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About the Contributor
Skylie Molina
Skylie Molina, Staff
From catching a wave alongside a dolphin to studying for the next exam, my days are packed with a little bit of everything. I am a junior in my first year of journalism. Passionate about conservation and climate change, I am the founder and president of the VNHS Environmental Club. Involved in many other activities, I am a 3rd year varsity cheerleader, and found love for surfing. Outside of school, you can find me reading, spending time with friends or family, or doing math homework, and listening to some pop music.
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