The number of COVID-positive patients in Los Angeles County hospitals has fallen below 700, decreasing by 28 people to 694, according to the latest state numbers released Saturday.
Of those patients, 92 were being treated in intensive care, up eight from the previous day’s total.
Those numbers come one day after the county reported 1,123 new cases of COVID-19 and another 19 deaths associated with the virus, bringing its cumulative totals to 3,673,339 cases and 35,230 deaths.
The daily case numbers released by the county’s Department of Public Health are undercounts of actual virus activity, due to people who use at-home tests and don’t report the results, and others who don’t test at all.
“The use of therapeutics, reasonable precautions including masking and testing, and access to the bivalent booster have all helped to put LA County in a good place right now,” Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer said in a statement. “The county is blessed to have the health tools that make a difference and I applaud everyone for using these tools to dampen spread and reduce risk, especially for those most vulnerable. For those at elevated risk who have not been boosted since August, please don’t delay adding in the additional protection offered by the new bivalent booster.”
On Thursday, the third anniversary of the first confirmed COVID-19 infection in the county, Ferrer reported continued declines in overall virus statistics.
She told reporters the county over the past week averaged 960 new COVID infections per day, a dramatic drop from the beginning of the month, when 2,400 new cases were being reported.
COVID-related hospitalizations also continued to fall, with the county averaging 104 new admissions per day aver the past week, a roughly 50% drop from 211 per day in early January.
One number that remained elevated, however, are daily virus-related deaths. The county is averaging 19 deaths per day, according to Ferrer, who said the number has hovered around 20 per day for nearly a month. She has stressed that older residents, particularly those 80 and over, remain vulnerable to severe illness and death from the virus. She urged people to continue exercising caution around vulnerable populations, including wearing masks.
With the county moving into the “low” virus-activity level, as defined by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, wearing masks indoors is now a matter of personal preference.
Masks are still required indoors at health-care and congregate-care facilities in the county, and for anyone exposed to the virus in the past 10 days, and at businesses where they are required by the owner. Ferrer said masks are highly recommended for high-risk individuals, and for people riding public transit.