With infections still surging, Los Angeles County’s cumulative number of Covid cases throughout the pandemic surpassed the 2 million mark today, with 43,582 new cases confirmed. Those new cases lifted the county’s cumulative case total to 2,010,964 since the pandemic began. The Sunday record for daily cases in the county was 45,584.
The county’s death toll now stands at 27,798.
According to state figures, the number Covid-positive hospital patients in county hospitals has continued to rise. It reached 3,472, an alarming figure. This was an increase of 3364, which was Sunday’s record. Also, there has been an increase in the number of intensive care patients who are hospitalized. They went from 435 on Sunday and 482 on Monday.
Since February 2013, the number of Covid positive patients in hospital has fallen to a new low. It was during a severe winter surge, which at one time saw the patient count rise to over 8,000. The state ensemble forecast today revealed that California’s Covid-related hospitalizations reached their peak late in the month at 30,000. That’s more than 30% higher than the previous record set last winter.
“With surging transmission and rapidly rising cases and hospitalizations, our already understaffed health care providers are under enormous strain as they try to care for so many COVID infected people, including those with mild illness who are looking for help and support, with the unintended consequence of compromising response capacity across the entire system,”Barbara Ferrer, county Public Health Director, stated in a statement.
“Because high community transmission has the inevitable impact of increasing demand for health care services, the best way to protect health care personnel and our capacity to care for both those with Covid and non-Covid illness, is to double-down on reducing transmission.”
However, the county Department of Public Health pointed out that the majority of COVID hospitalizations happen among people who were initially admitted for another reason and only discovered they had it when they were tested.
For the week ending Dec. 26, 55% of Covid-positive hospital patients had been admitted for a different reason — indicating that while they were infected with Covid, they were not experiencing severe virus symptoms.
Officials from the county health department stressed that COVID is still 21 times more common in unvaccinated individuals than it is for vaccinated.
Omicron virus variant, which is highly transmissible, is responsible for the current increase in cases.
“While it is true that Omicron is much more infectious than previous Covid strains, there are many effective strategies available for reducing transmission risks over the next few weeks,” Ferrer said. “Gatherings should also be postponed for a few weeks, especially if there are participants who are not fully vaccinated, and everyone cannot test before getting together. Lastly, upgrading masks to those that provide a better barrier against virus particles is a commonsense step that increases our own protection along with those around us.”
The county’s rolling average rate of people testing positive for the virus was 21.4% as of Monday, up from 20.6% Sunday and 20.9% Saturday after a week of trending downward. In November, the rate was lower than 1%.
The testing-positivity rate, however, may be artificially low due to the number of people who use take-home tests and don’t report the results, according to officials.
67% of residents in eligible counties are currently fully vaccinated.
City News Service contributed to the report.