The number of people in Los Angeles County hospitalized for COVID-19 treatment rose to more than 4,000 on Thursday, January 13 – its highest level since early February 2021 – as a winter surge unabated by the highly permeable Omicron variant The jump came
The Department of Public Health posted 45,076 new positive COVID cases, the Omicron version now accounting for nearly 95% of all indexed cases in the county.
The winter viral wave continued its deadly turn, with 45 new COVID-related fatalities reported, 9 deaths reported on Wednesday, the highest number since September. All the deaths reported on Wednesday were in the same month, possibly reflecting December’s higher case count and an increase in the number of hospitalizations.
So far, since the pandemic began, the county has reported 27,895 COVID-related deaths and 2,131,523 cases. Thursday’s rolling daily rate of people testing positive for the virus was 20.8%.
As of Thursday, there were 4,175 people with the coronavirus in county hospitals, up from 3,912 a day earlier, according to the latest state figures.
County Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer said Thursday that the increase in COVID patients is pushing the county’s overall hospital patient population to a level of case growth last winter. She said the daily overall patient census – both COVID and non-COVID – in the county is about 15,000, up close to last winter’s peak of 16,500.
Ferrer noted that rising hospitalizations are a natural consequence of the increase in the number of cases – as are deaths, which are likely to continue to rise even after infection figures begin to decline.
“And while it’s reassuring that most of the scientific evidence to date suggests that omicrons cause minor illness for many people, especially those vaccinated and promoted, we still don’t know how recently What percentage of people infected with Omicron will experience COVID for a long time, or are likely to develop MIS-C in children infected with Omicron after their initial infection,” said Ferrer. Referring to the syndrome, he said.
“Given this uncertainty, it is prudent to continue to take all possible protections to reduce your risk of this highly contagious type of infection,” she said.
Ferrer said more than 1 in 5 residents being tested for COVID are positive. The increase in cases, Ferrer said, is almost a straight vertical line – an increase of more than 2,000% percent since early December, when average daily new cases hovered near the low thousands.
DPH reports that COVID patients now make up 25% of all intensive care unit patients in LA County. However, this number is still much lower than the numbers last winter, when COVID patients made up about 70% of all ICU patients.
“While thankfully this is not at the levels we saw during last winter’s growth,” Ferrer said, “these numbers serve as a clear reminder that for an increasing number of people, Omicron is suffering from serious illness.” is causing.”
Ferrer said that about 40% of COVID-positive patients admitted to county hospitals are undergoing treatment for non-COVID related illness. All hospitalized patients are tested for COVID, meaning some discover they are infected upon admission to unrelated treatment.
But accidental COVID cases also put a strain on hospital resources, Ferrer said.
“Covid positive patients, regardless of the reason for hospitalization, all require resource intensive precautions, including isolation rooms, cohort staff and personal protective equipment,” Ferrer said. “And it continues to represent a strain on the healthcare system, especially in light of staffing shortages across all of our hospitals.”
Christina Ghaly, director of the county health services department, said current staffing shortages were making hospitals more dire. He pointed to the large number of health care workers who have retired or left frontline work.
Ghali also said that health workers are just as, if not more, vulnerable to COVID infection—many unavailable for work due to illness or exposure.
new school protocol
Late Wednesday night, the state’s Department of Public Health issued new COVID guidance for K-12 schools. The updated guidelines include changes to quarantine and contact-tracing protocols.
“A group-tracing approach strategy has been introduced as an alternative to personal contact tracing,” CDPH officials wrote in an email. “This approach allows for quick and comprehensive response to cases identified in school settings, accomplished through rapid notification, testing and isolation protocols.”
Ferrer said the DPH received the state’s updated protocols on Thursday morning and they will be reviewed.
“Whenever possible we try to be in alignment with the state,” she said. “But we also need to recognize our obligation to create a lot of security here in LA County.”
As more students and staff returned to in-person learning this week, routine testing in schools in several districts identified thousands of students and staff as having been infected with COVID-19, amid a surge in cases.
For the week of January 3 through January 9, 547,466 tests were administered in the county’s school districts, with the majority of the tests for LAUSD students and staff. Last week, 80,424 positive cases were identified, including 68,560 cases among LAUSD staff and students, resulting in a test positivity rate of 14.6%.
A total of three outbreaks were identified among youth sports teams last week, with an additional 26 school-related outbreaks still being monitored. Ferrer noted that DPH anticipates more outbreaks at the school as the increase continues.
On Thursday, Southern California continues to fall victim to a surge in incidents.
Pasadena announced the cancellation of its Black History parade on Wednesday, and the cities of Long Beach and Pasadena pushed back the dates for their annual count of the homeless population. The annual holiday of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. also included the cancellation or switching of online productions to various parades, festivals and celebrations.
Ferrer has urged residents to avoid unnecessary activities in the coming weeks, especially those that are indoors and unvaccinated or socializing with people at high risk.
He also emphasized that the Omicron variant is able to easily infect vaccinated people, yet the shots are still proving effective at preventing infected people from being hospitalized.
She said that non-vaccinated people were nine times more likely to be hospitalized than those who were fully vaccinated, and 38 times more likely to be hospitalized than those who were not fully vaccinated. Vaccinated against and received a booster shot.
There are still about 2 million eligible residents who have not yet received a single dose of any vaccine – 655,000 of whom are children between the ages of 5 and 11.
“The data continues to show that vaccines do make a difference,” Ferrer said. “If more people were vaccinated and promoted, we wouldn’t have seen so many cases.”
The record number of new cases in recent days has been driven by a large increase in testing. On Wednesday, Governor Gavin Newsom visited a testing site in South Los Angeles County to highlight his COVID-19 emergency response package.
On Saturday, Newsom proposed $2.7 billion in new COVID spending as part of its next budget proposal, including a $1.4 billion emergency appropriation request to ramp up testing capacity, accelerate vaccination and booster efforts, support frontline workers , strengthen the health care system and “fight misinformation”. ,