With cases and hospitalizations increasing, LA County residents encouraged to layer safety protections

With the highly infectious BA.2 subvariant and sub-lineages fueling case and hospitalization increases, Los Angeles County residents are encouraged to layer safety protections such as masking, testing, and staying away from others when sick.

For the week ending April 23, Omicron once again accounted for 100% of all positive cases that were sequenced, with the BA.2 lineage and sub-lineages accounting for about 97% of these positive sequenced specimens in LA County.

While BA.2, excluding BA.2.12.1, continues to be the predominant subvariant, accounting for about 85% of positive sequenced specimens, LA County is seeing slight upticks in the more transmissible sub-lineage, BA.2.12.1, with about 12% of positive sequenced samples identified as BA.2.12.1 for the week ending April 23. For the week ending April 23, 9.1% of sequenced samples were identified as sub-lineages, BA.2.3 or BA.2.3x, thought to be more infectious than BA.2. The CDC estimated that, for the week ending May 7, BA.2 accounted for 56% of sequenced samples and BA.2.12.1 accounted for an increasing proportion of sequenced specimens in the U.S.: 43%, compared to 37% for the prior week.

With these highly infectious subvariants and sub-lineages in circulation, cases continue to increase in LA County. The average number of daily new cases reported over the last seven days increased to 2,944 compared to the 1,071 reported one month ago, an increase of 175%.

The higher case numbers are beginning to translate to small increases in hospitalizations, as they typically follow case increases. Over the last seven days, the average number of hospitalized cases per day was 288, an increase of 14% from one month ago when the average number of hospitalized cases per day was 253.

Fortunately, deaths, which typically lag hospitalizations by several weeks, remain stable and decreased from one month ago. Deaths decreased to an average of six deaths reported per day this past week, a 45% decrease from one month ago when an average of 11 deaths were reported per day.

“As always, we extend our deepest sympathies to everyone mourning the loss of a loved one from COVID,” said Dr. Barbara Ferrer, Director of Public Health.  “With the proliferation of highly infectious sub-lineages of Omicron, it is easier for infected individuals to unknowingly pass along the virus, resulting in many of us experiencing more spread associated with our gatherings and travel.  And while it is reassuring to note the relatively low rates of hospitalizations and deaths, getting infected for many is still very risky and something to be avoided wherever possible. As has been true throughout the pandemic, keeping others safe often requires that many of us align with sensible safety measures.   For those who aren’t particularly concerned about their own health or that of their family members, we ask that you please be mindful of the cumulative risks faced by many in the workforce, at our schools, and in congregate living facilities. With good access to many tools that help us layer in protection for those most vulnerable, we hope that more individuals will take the step of putting back on well-fitting, high filtration masks when using public transit and in transportation hubs, indoor spaces at schools and congregate living facilities, and when inside stores and workplaces. This would give us a chance at slowing down spread while we continue to increase the numbers of residents and workers up to date with their vaccinations since vaccines give us the most protection from severe illness and death.”

On Monday, May 16, Public Health reported 15 additional deaths and 3,489 new positive cases Saturday, 2,707 new cases Sunday and 1,941 new cases today. The number of cases and deaths are likely to reflect reporting delays over the weekend. Of the 15 new deaths reported since Saturday, one person was between the ages of 30-49, one person was between the ages of 50-64, five people were between the ages of 65-79, and seven people were aged 80 years or older. Of the 15 newly reported deaths, all had underlying health conditions. Information on the one death reported by the city of Long Beach is available at longbeach.gov. longbeach.gov. To date, the total number of deaths in LA County is 32,037.

Public Health has reported a total of 2,915,694 positive cases of COVID-19 across all areas of LA County. The positivity rate is 2.6%.

There are 312 people with COVID-19 currently hospitalized. Testing results are available for more than 11,936,751 individuals, with 22% of people testing positive. n

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