COVID-19 Newsletter: A New COVID-19 Strain has Arrived in Los Angeles County

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A New COVID-19 Strain has Arrived in Los Angeles County

The first cases of the newest Omicron strain have been confirmed in Los Angeles County and residents are being asked to watch out for possible new symptoms and take precautions. Reports of conjunctivitis, more commonly known as “pink eye,” are being attributed to XBB.1.16, also known as “Arcturus.” People infected with XBB.1.16 may also experience more traditional COVID symptoms, such as fever, cough and shortness of breath.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) predicts XBB.1.16 accounts for 8% of COVID-19 cases in California and 10% nationally right now.

Older adults and individuals with underlying health conditions may want to take extra precautions like getting a second bivalent booster, frequent hand washing, avoiding touching their eyes and face, staying home when sick and testing. Those at higher risk of severe illness may also want to consider masking in crowded places.

second boosters

Because XBB.1.16 is a descendant of the Omicron variant, current vaccines and therapeutics are highly likely to remain protective and able to ward off severe illness.

Public Health is offering bivalent vaccines and boosters to eligible residents at no cost, regardless of their insurance or immigration status, at hundreds of locations throughout Los Angeles County. Vaccination locations and appointments can be found at or (en español) or by calling 1-833-540-0473.

Why COVID-19 Testing is Critical During Allergy Season

Spring allergy season is in full swing across Southern California, and public health officials say it’s all the more reason to make sure you’re testing for COVID-19.

Itchy, watery and red eyes could be a sign of COVID-19, so before you dismiss your symptoms as a result of pollen, it’s best to take a COVID-19 test to rule out a possible infection— especially if you are, or spend time around, people more vulnerable to severe illness.

Free COVID-19 at-home tests can still be picked up at libraries and community sites across Los Angeles County and at Public Health vaccination sites or ordered through the federal government. Additionally, insurance policies are still required to reimburse each member for up to eight COVID-19 tests per month. Information is available at

Can’t Get to a Vaccination Site? We’ll Come to You

For residents who have difficulties leaving their home, Public Health offers free in-home COVID-19 vaccine and booster appointments. Appointments may be booked at or by calling the Public Health COVID-19 Call Center at 1-833-540-0473.

After that, a Public Health nurse will show up at your home and vaccinate you. Caregivers, household/family members are also allowed to get vaccinated during your appointment.

home boosters

Additional Resources

The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health has developed a wide array of documents, guidance documents, and resources for the workers, businesses, partners, and the general public on a variety of topics related to COVID-19, including:

For the Public:

For Businesses:

It is recommended you follow @lapublichealth on FacebookTwitter or Instagram the latest updates about Los Angeles County.

Always check with trusted sources for the latest accurate information about novel coronavirus: