LOS ANGELES (CNS) – The number of coronavirus patients hospitalized in Los Angeles County has climbed back above 1,700, while county officials have reported six more virus-related deaths and 2,339 new positive cases.

   Hospitalizations had fallen to 1,687 on Sunday, but according to state figures, the number rose back to 1,709 as of Monday, with 452 of those people in intensive care.

   The six new deaths increased the overall death toll from the pandemic to 25,251 in the county, while the cumulative number of infections rose to 1,405,387. According to the Department of Public Health, the case and death numbers were likely artificially low, because Monday numbers traditionally reflect delays in reporting from the weekend.

   The rolling daily average rate of people testing positive for the virus in the county was 2.4% as of Monday, up slightly from 2.3% on Saturday.

   Meanwhile, the county announced another change to its evolving COVID guidelines for participants and coaches in youth sports, including school-based athletic programs. Under the previously released rules, which were set to take effect Wednesday, the county was mandating weekly COVID testing for all players and staff, regardless of vaccination status.

   The revised rules, however, remove the weekly testing requirement for fully vaccinated youth taking part in outdoor sports, unless there is a positive case among players, coaches, and/or staff. If there is a positive case, all players, coaches, staff and volunteers will be required to have a weekly negative test for two weeks following exposure.

   Weekly testing will still be mandated for all youth, staff, coaches, and volunteers who are not fully vaccinated and are involved in “moderate” or “high” risk indoor sports. For “moderate” or “high” risk outdoor sports, testing will be required for all youth aged 12 and older, staff, coaches, and volunteers who are not vaccinated. No weekly testing will be required for children under 12 involved in outdoor sports.

   Health officials said the rules could be modified further based on the availability of testing and will be reassessed when overall community transmission of the virus diminishes.

   “We are grateful to the schools, districts, youth sports programs, and parents who have worked so hard in ensuring the safety of students, teachers, athletes, and the many staff,” county Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer said in a statement. “It is very important for anyone who tests positive for COVID-19 to isolate from others and that masks are worn properly in all indoor settings, which includes spectators, coaches, and employees of youth sports regardless of vaccination status. The best protection for all student-athletes 12 years and over, and for all coaches and team staff is to get vaccinated.”

   Over the weekend, Ferrer stressed the need to protect children under age 12, who are ineligible to be vaccinated.

   “During this period of high transmission, protecting those younger than 12 who are not yet eligible for the vaccine, is of utmost importance and we can all take as many precautions as feasible to limit the risk of transmission,” she said.

   Ferrer provided a list of safety precautions, including:
   — moving activities outdoors whenever possible;
   — distancing and avoiding crowds;
   — masking always when indoors and outdoors if distancing isn’t
possible; and
   — carefully assessing nonessential activities that carry more risk of

   The Los Angeles Unified School District introduced school-based coronavirus vaccine clinics beginning Monday, offering the shots on campus to any eligible students and employees.

   Ferrer said that during the week of Aug. 16-22, 3,186 new cases were confirmed in schools, with the highest percentage involving LAUSD campuses, where weekly testing is required.

   According to Ferrer, 74% of eligible L.A. County residents age 12 and up have received at least one dose of vaccine, and 64% are fully vaccinated. Of the county’s overall population of about 10.3 million people — including those under age 12 who aren’t eligible for the shots — 63% have received at least one dose, and 55% are fully vaccinated.