COVID-19 is still spreading widely in LA County, although signs of decline continue

A person receives a drive-through COVID-19 test at Leimert Park in Los Angeles. (Dania Maxwell/Los Angeles Times)

On Saturday, health officials reported more encouraging signs that the wave of Omicron may have passed its peak in Los Angeles County, although the coronavirus is still circulating widely and large numbers of people are becoming seriously ill. with COVID-19.

The county recorded 39,117 new infections on Saturday, pushing the week’s total above the quarter-million mark, officials said. That’s down about 13% from the previous week’s 291,000 infections.

Hospitalizations continued their downward trend, falling to 4,698 on Saturday. That’s down from 4,814 on Thursday and 4,792 on Friday.

Authorities also reported 72 deaths from COVID-19 on Saturday, the second highest figure in the past seven days. LA County recorded 415 deaths from COVID-19 last week. Deaths tend to lag weeks behind increases in new cases and hospitalizations.

The test positivity rate remains high at 16%, although it is slightly lower than last week’s figure, officials said.

The small decreases in new cases, hospitalizations and the test positivity rate suggest the coronavirus is no longer spreading exponentially, officials said. However, they added, the Omicron variant is highly transmissible and thousands of people are still becoming seriously ill.

“We will need to remain cautious over the next few weeks as transmission remains at the highest levels we have ever seen,” LA County Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer said in a statement. “With an average of 35,000 new cases recorded each day, it is very easy for any of us to come across an infected person during the week.”

Ferrer advised Angelenos to avoid crowds, stay a safe distance from others, wash or sanitize their hands frequently, and wear a high-quality mask — an N95, KN95 or KF94.

Unvaccinated people remain most at risk of hospitalization and death from COVID-19, but those who are vaccinated can still get breakthrough infections and suffer serious illnesses, especially if they have chronic health conditions. which makes them more vulnerable at the outset. Studies show that booster shots are essential to maximize its protection against Omicron.

In the week ending Jan. 9, the risk of contracting COVID-19 was 4.1 times higher for unvaccinated Californians than for those who got vaccinated. Additionally, unvaccinated residents were six times more likely to be hospitalized and 17.8 times more likely to die from the disease, according to the most recent data from the state Department of Public Health.

Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, LA County has confirmed nearly 2.5 million coronavirus cases and 28,417 COVID-19 deaths.

This story originally appeared in the Los Angeles Times.

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