The number of patients at Los Angeles County Hospital infected with COVID-19 crawled above the 600 mark again on Wednesday, June 15, while health officials reported nearly 5,700 new virus cases.
According to state data, there were 606 COVID positive patients in county hospitals as of Wednesday, up from 579 on Tuesday. Of those patients, 65 were being treated in intensive care, up from 60 the day before.
Health officials have noted that many COVID-positive patients were actually admitted to hospitals for a reason other than the virus, and often they only learned that they were infected upon admission.
Public health director Barbara Ferrer told the board of supervisors on Tuesday that 40% of COVID-positive patients in the county are currently being treated specifically for COVID-19. Another 60% were admitted for other health reasons. However, she notes that all virus-positive patients require additional infection-control measures in hospitals, regardless of the reason they are admitted.
The county reported 5,693 new infections on Wednesday, raising the cumulative total from the entire pandemic to 3,047,469. Nine more virus-related deaths were also announced, bringing the county’s total to 32,236.
The average daily rate of people testing positive for the virus rose to 6.7%. Ferrer said Tuesday that the positivity rate is likely to increase in the coming weeks, as many schools – which typically account for a large portion of weekly COVID tests in the county – are out of session for the summer.
Ferrer said that if the number of COVID hospitalizations continued to rise over the past two weeks, the county would move to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s “high” virus activity category by the end of June. If the county remains in the “high” category for two straight weeks, the county will re-enact a universal indoor mask-wearing mandate, she said.
But Ferrer said there is no reason why people should wait to start wearing masks again.
“I want to encourage everyone to use your mask now,” Ferrer said. “…we don’t have to wait until things get really bad.”
Masks are still mandatory in high-risk settings such as healthcare facilities, on transit vehicles and in transit centers and airports, in correctional facilities and in long-term care facilities.
The county is currently in the CDC’s “moderate” level of COVID activity. It will move to the “high” category if the average daily rate of new COVID-related hospital admissions exceeds 10 per 100,000 residents, or if the percentage of hospital beds occupied by COVID-positive patients is above 10%.
Both figures have been rising gradually over the past several weeks, with the rate of new admissions reaching 7.2 per 100,000 residents as of Tuesday, up from 6.4 last Thursday. The share of hospital beds in counties occupied with virus patients stood at 3.3% as of Tuesday, up from 3.1% on Thursday.