Los Angeles County’s COVID-19 hospital admissions continued a worrying upward trend on Wednesday, December 15, as new infections continued to surge amid growing concerns over a winter virus surge.
According to the state, there were 770 COVID-positive patients in the county hospitals on Wednesday, up from 751 on Tuesday – but about 100 more than a week ago and about 200 more than at the end of November.
Of the hospitalized patients, 179 were treated in the intensive care unit, up from 184 on Tuesday.
The county reported an additional 19 COVID deaths on Wednesday, bringing the county a total of 27,369 virus-related deaths.
The county also confirmed another 1,850 new COVID infections, bringing the cumulative pandemic to 1,551,117.
The rolling average daily rate of people who tested positive for the virus remained relatively low at 1.2%.
Health officials have pointed to a surge in infections and case numbers after Thanksgiving – prompting the state to reintroduce a nationwide mandate to wear masks indoors on Wednesday. Los Angeles County already had such a mandate in place, but the rule will force people in neighboring counties like Orange and Riverside to mask themselves, although it was unclear whether those counties would enforce the rule.
Barbara Ferrer, the county’s public health director, said last week the trend in COVID numbers is showing the beginning of a winter surge in some cases, and she has urged more people to get vaccinated or get booster vaccinations.
On Wednesday, Ferrer praised the work of community organizations for their help in encouraging residents in badly affected areas to get the vaccine.
“Long-standing injustices in access to health opportunities have played an important role in contributing to the higher case, hospitalization and death rates among black and Latinx communities over the course of the pandemic,” Ferrer said in a statement. “To overcome these inequalities, we need to work on several challenges in the equitable distribution of the resources we all need for our health: clean air and water, healthy food, safe parks, affordable housing, good jobs and quality health care.
“This is the work we must do if we are serious about building trust with residents and workers in our communities,” she said. “Our partnerships with community organizations have taught us the importance of strengthening relationships and focusing resources on those who have often been marginalized and left behind.”
Black and Latino residents have consistently lagged their white and Asian counterparts in vaccinating against COVID-19, although vaccination numbers have seen some upward movement.
As of last week, 83% of Los Angeles County’s residents 12 years or older had received at least one dose of vaccine, and 75% were fully vaccinated. Of all eligible residents aged 5 and over, 77% have received at least one dose and 69% are fully vaccinated.
Of the more than 6.15 million fully vaccinated people in the county, 84,931 tested positive, or approximately 1.38%. A total of 2,798 vaccinated people were hospitalized, which is a rate of 0.046%, and 537 have died, which is a rate of 0.009%.
The county confirmed eight more cases of the Omicron variant of COVID-19 on Tuesday, bringing the county’s total to 15. Long Beach and Pasadena, both of which have their own health departments separate from the county, have each confirmed one Omicron case.
The variant of Omicron was first discovered in South Africa, but has quickly spread to dozens of countries around the world. While the variant has been blamed for an increase in cases in South Africa, studies continue to determine whether Omicron is more dangerous, more easily transmitted, or potentially vaccine resistant.
Health officials so far have said that current vaccinations against the variant appear to be effective.
Omicron has been classified as a “variant of concern” by the World Health Organization and the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.