The coronavirus
The coronavirus is pictured in this electron microscope image. Courtesy NIH

Another 3,606 cases of COVID-19 have been reported by Los Angeles County, the largest single-day report since early February, while the number of people hospitalized topped the 1,000 mark.

The 3,606 new infections brought the county’s overall total from throughout the pandemic to 1,297,032. Another five deaths were reported, giving the county a cumulative COVID death toll of 24,676.

According to state figures, the number of people hospitalized with COVID reached 1,008 as of Friday, with 232 people in intensive care. Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer noted this week that a small number of those listed as COVID patients were actually admitted for other health issues, and were only diagnosed with COVID during admission screening.

The average daily rate of people testing positive for the virus was 6.3% as of Friday, up from the 5.17% rate reported Thursday.

Ferrer said Thursday the rise seen in recent weeks in the positivity rate and new case numbers was showing signs of slowing, offering some hope the surge may be leveling off. She said hospitalizations are expected to continue rising, since that number traditionally increases following rises in overall case numbers.

The county has been experiencing sharp increases in daily case numbers, hospitalizations and test-positivity rates over the past several weeks, with the increases attributed to the highly infectious Delta variant of the coronavirus.

As expected with the surge in COVID cases among the general public, the county’s homeless population has also seen a sharp increase in infections in recent weeks, according to the Department of Public Health. For the week that ended Sunday, 111 new cases were confirmed among the homeless, up 21% from the previous week.

Throughout the pandemic, 7,588 COVID cases have been reported among the homeless, and 216 have died.

“Given the high rate of community transmission in our county, our vaccination efforts remain critically important to reducing the impact of rising infection on our residents, including people experiencing homelessness who are particularly vulnerable to COVID-19,” Ferrer said in a statement Friday. “If you already had COVID-19 and recovered, you should still get vaccinated. There are severe health risks associated with COVID and re-infection is possible, particularly from variants of the virus.

“And if you haven’t received your second shot of a two-dose vaccine, you aren’t getting maximum protection against COVID-19,” she said. “All of the emerging data on the Delta variant indicates that the vaccines do not provide significant protection unless you have received both doses, so please go get your second dose this weekend.”

County figures show that as of July 27, among 4.9 million fully vaccinated residents, 10,656 tested positive for the virus, for a rate of 0.22%. That rate marks a 63% increase from a week ago, but still remains statistically low.

Among the vaccinated people, only 410 were hospitalized, for a rate of 0.008%, and only 35 died, a rate of 0.0007%.

From Jan. 1 through June 30 of this year, 99.8% of the people who died from COVID-19 were unvaccinated or only partially vaccinated, Ferrer said.

While the pace of vaccinations has slowed significantly, Ferrer said the county has now seen two consecutive weeks of small increases in the number of people receiving a first dose. Between July 19 and 25, about 70,000 doses were administered in the county, up about 7,500 from the previous week.

Vaccination rates remain low among younger residents, particularly in the Black community. As of July 25, only 30% of Black residents age 16-17 and 18-29 had received at least one shot, roughly half of the rate of their white counterparts. Only 24% of Black residents aged 12-15 had at least one dose, also half the rate for white residents.

Overall, Black residents had the lowest overall rate of vaccination, at 46%, compared to 55% for Latinos, 66% for white residents and 77% for Asians.

Of the county’s 10.3 million overall residents, 60% have received at least one dose, and 52% are fully vaccinated. Roughly 1.3 million residents under age 12 remain ineligible for the vaccine.

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