Los Angeles County reported 39 deaths on Wednesday, January 12, the most in nearly four months, while new cases once again jumped above 40,000 — yet another reminder that the current winter surge is a spurt on the Southland. The crisis persists.
The last time the daily death toll was so high, the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health said Wednesday, was September 22, when the agency reported that 41 people had died from the virus. A day earlier, there were 15 deaths in the county.
The “disturbing rise” in cases, health officials said, likely reflects December’s spike in cases – a climb that has not yet peaked.
There is no stoppage in hospitals as well. Health officials reported Wednesday that 3,912 people were hospitalized in Los Angeles County, up from 3,766 the day before.
Perhaps more alarming is the recent spike in the number of patients in intensive care, which rose to 536 from 513 Tuesday, continuing a trend in which the number of COVID-19 patients in ICUs exceeded 200 over the past eight days. has occurred. ,
But Dr. Christina Ghali, the county’s director of health services, said the omicron-fueled boom in hospitals is playing out differently than it did before, despite the rising number of patients. She said last fall, about one-third of COVID patients were injured in ICU care, but that number is only around 10% to 15% this time, in at least four county-run hospitals that offer other medical facilities. indicate situations. Center.
The 40,452 new cases reported on Wednesday also took the daily count above 40,000 for the fourth time in the last six days.
There have been 2,086,581 confirmed cases across the country since the pandemic began and 27,850 deaths.
Wednesday’s positivity rate was 20.4%.
And based on last week’s test results, the positivity rate among the county’s K-12 students and teachers rose to 14.1%, the DPH said. Last week, DPH identified 68,560 cases among LAUSD staff and students.
“As schools reopen across the country, we are seeing a large number of students and staff testing positive, which is an explosive rate of community spread,” Barbara Ferrer, the county’s director of public health, said in a statement on Wednesday. Shows.” “Given the importance of ensuring that our schools are safe for individualized learning, layering in security is one of the most sensible approaches.”
That said, those protections include:
- Wearing a mask indoors and in crowded places.
- Testing close contacts of infected students and school staff.
- Making boosters more accessible.
Health officials said the county identified three outbreaks among youth sports teams last week, and was still monitoring 26 other school-related people.
“We are grateful for the hard work of school superintendents, labor partners and staff, parents and students,” Ferrer said, “in implementing strategies that promote safety in schools.”
Mortality and hospitalization rates with Omicron remain better than last year with a far more fatal winter increase. But this time the sheer number of coronavirus cases still increased the total number of coronavirus-related hospitalizations, putting pressure on the health care system.
For example, on January 12, 2021, the county reported 11,994 new cases and health officials were expressing concerns about the daily number exceeding 15,000.
But over the past week, the county has reported a total of 242,659 cases, an average of more than 34,600 a day.
Yet, a year ago, the number of hospitalizations stood at 7,900 and the death toll neared 300.
That is why Ghali has expressed some optimism about the current boom compared to last year.
About 40% of COVID-positive patients in county hospitals have been admitted specifically because of the virus, he has said, while the rest only learned that they were infected upon admission for something else. During the previous surge, 80% to 90% of COVID patients were admitted due to virus-related illness, Ghali has said.
But, he said, the current staffing shortage is creating a more dire situation in hospitals. A large number of health care workers have retired or moved to non-front-line positions, while a rise in COVID-19 infections has affected health care workers as well, leaving many unavailable for work.
The situation has led to prolonged ambulance response times due to large numbers of workers in private ambulance companies who have failed to meet COVID-19 vaccination requirements, leaving them unable to work, people calling in sick. Combined with a large number of .
Officials said that the current surge requires prudence and vigilance among the public, so as not to worsen the situation.
“While we are in the boom, we ask that you take more precautions, even if you have been vaccinated and extended,” Ferrer said during Tuesday’s meeting of the Board of Supervisors. “We are also asking that over the next few weeks, we try to avoid all non-essential activities where people are unmasked and in close contact with others.”
City News Service contributed to this report.