The Los Angeles County Public Health Department Monday reported a slight drop in COVID-19 hospitalizations in the county, along with 2,598 new cases and 28 new deaths over the three days since Saturday.
The agency said 379 people are currently hospitalized with COVID-19 in L.A. County, down slightly from the 392 reported Saturday.
Health department data also show 1,261 new cases reported Saturday, 814 Sunday and 523 Monday. On Saturday, the agency reported 11 new virus-related fatalities, along with 10 Sunday and seven Monday — bringing the cumulative death count in the county from throughout the pandemic to 33,915 deaths.
Monday’s daily positivity rate, covering a seven-day average, was 3.6%, the same as Saturday and slightly higher than Sunday’s 3.4%.
The agency does not update data over the weekend.
The numbers come after local health officials last week reported that COVID-19 mortality is down this year, though the impact of COVID-associated deaths remains “significant and concerning.”
An analysis by the health department found that a vast majority of increases in all-cause mortality were due to COVID-associated deaths. The agency said Friday it reviewed COVID and non-COVID mortality rates for four six-month periods from January through June, 2019 to 2022, and compared it to the 10-year period ending in 2019, prior to the pandemic — when the all-cause mortality rate had been stable with a slight downward trend.
According to the health department, when the pandemic began, the all-cause mortality rate for the first half of 2020 increased from just under 300 deaths per 100,000 people to almost 336 deaths per 100,000. In 2021, it increased even more significantly to almost 400 deaths per 100,000. During the first half of 2022, it dropped back to about 336 deaths.
The department said the majority of the increases were due to COVID-associated deaths but that COVID deaths did not account for all of the increase.
In addition, the pandemic may have led to more deaths from other causes through delayed care for other conditions, health systems being overwhelmed, or people being apprehensive about potential exposure to the virus, the agency reported.
According to Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer, “We’ll need to do a better job using all the resources available” to protect against severe illness, hospitalization and death for those who contract the coronavirus.
Health officials have noted that the majority of COVID fatalities involve elderly people and those with underlying health conditions, including heart disease, hypertension and diabetes.
The county logged a daily average of just under 920 cases of COVID-19 last week, a slight decrease over the average of about 950 the previous week.
Ferrer said Thursday that the number of new outbreaks in K-12 classrooms fell from 11 a week ago to seven during the past week, and continues to be of low concern.
The number of new outbreaks at skilled nursing facilities rose from seven the previous week to 13 last week and is now at medium concern level, but Ferrer noted that one positive case among a resident at a SNF is considered an outbreak.
Ferrer added that Omicron BA.5 continues to be the most dominant subvariant of the virus, but “it appears to be gradually accounting for fewer sequenced specimens, indicating that other variants could become more dominant in the future.”
BA.5 accounted for 88% of sequenced cases for the week ending Oct. 1, compared with 91% the prior week and 93% a few weeks before that.
“These changes are small, but they could indicate the beginning of a growth advantage by some of the other strains,” including BA.4.6, which increased to almost 6% of sequenced cases in the most recent data, Ferrer said.
“Some of these mutations make it easier to evade prior immunity, meaning that many of us can be re-infected even if we were previously infected with a strain of Omicron earlier this year,” she added.
The variants can also break though protections such as vaccines and therapeutics, Ferrer said.
“The positive news is that the updated Pfizer and Moderna bivalent boosters contain the BA.4 and BA.5 spike protein, and we expect that this will provide good protection” against the variants, she said.
Ferrer also reported that as of Wednesday, Novavax was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration as a booster for adults, meaning there are now three manufacturers for booster shots available.
Pfizer and Moderna offer bivalent mRNA boosters formulated to protect against the original COVID-19 strain and the Omicron variant, while Novavax offers a traditional protein-based formula similar to a hepatitis B or shingles vaccine. It is formulated for the original COVID-19 strain, “however it will likely provide some protection against Omicron, and it’s a good option for people who are unable or unwilling to take an mRNA vaccine,” Ferrer said.
The Los Angeles City Council voted Wednesday to continue the city’s emergency declaration due to COVID-19 for at least another 30 days.