The average daily number of new COVID-19 infections reported in Los Angeles County over the past week dipped by about 21% from the previous week, and daily hospital admissions also declined, the public health director said Thursday, but the county is seeing elevated virus-related death totals and has confirmed the 20th pediatric fatality.

No additional details about the pediatric death were revealed.

Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer said the county is reporting an average of 16 virus-related deaths per day, double the number from two weeks ago.

“Experience does tell us that deaths are a lagging indicator, and we’re concerned about the possibility of seeing even higher increases in these numbers a few weeks from now,” she said.

The average daily number of new COVID cases being reported by the county is about 3,000 per day, Ferrer said, down roughly 21% from 3,800 the previous week she said.

“Despite this decline, current cases are still up by about 120% from one month ago,” she said. “While we’re relieved to no longer see steep increases, this is in the context of knowing that cases are severely under-counted. With home tests and people who may not test, transmission is certainly greater than the case count indicates.”

She noted that surveillance monitoring of COVID-19 in wastewater streams remains highly elevated in the county, indicating continued high transmission of the virus.

According to Ferrer, the average daily number of virus-related hospital admissions across the county was about 197 per day over the past week, down roughly 7% from the previous week. According to state figures, there were 1,256 COVID-positive patients in county hospitals as of Thursday, down from 1,304 a day earlier. Of those patients, 131 were being treated in intensive care units, down slightly from 135 on Wednesday.

Health officials are continuing to closely monitor hospital data, as they consider a possible return to a universal mask mandate.

As of Thursday, the county remains in the “high” COVID activity category, as defined by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, with an average daily new case rate of 204 per 100,000 residents. The county could fall back to the “medium” category if that number falls back below 200 per 100,000 residents.

Ferrer has said previously the county would reinstitute a mask-wearing mandate if the county is in the “high” category and meets two hospital thresholds:

— if the rate of daily hospital admissions tops 10 per 100,000 residents; and

— if the percent of staffed hospital beds occupied by COVID patients tops 10%.

The county’s daily hospital admission rate is 14 per 100,000, while the percent of staffed hospital beds occupied by COVID patients was 7.2%.

Mask wearing continues to be “strongly recommended” by the county at indoor public settings. But Ferrer said that even absent a mandate, residents should start wearing them, given the elevated rate of transmission.

Masks are still required indoors at health-care and congregate-care facilities, for anyone exposed to the virus in the past 10 days, and at businesses where they are required by the owner.

Ferrer noted that due to a variety of factors — most notably hospital staffing issues — the number of available staffed beds in the county has fallen to one of its lowest levels of the pandemic.

On Thursday, the county Department of Public Health reported 3,192 new COVID infections, giving the county a cumulative total from throughout the pandemic of 3,595,218.

Another 22 virus-related deaths were also reported Thursday, raising the county’s pandemic death toll to 34,390.

The average daily rate of people testing positive for the virus was 11.4% as of Thursday, roughly the same as a week ago.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *