Nurse treats COVID-19 patient in ICU
A nurse treats a coronavirus patient in an ICU. Image from Scripps Health video

COVID-19 hospitalization numbers have dropped again, continuing a monthlong downward trend, while infection rates among residents and staff at skilled nursing facilities also dipped again.

According to state figures, there were 862 COVID-positive patients in county hospitals as of Friday, down from 872 on Thursday. Of those patients, 234 were being treated in intensive care, down from 246 on Thursday.

The number of COVID-positive people hospitalized in the county has fallen 28 times in the past 32 days, bringing the number down from a summer peak of nearly 1,800.

Another 20 COVID-19 deaths were reported by the county Friday, raising the death toll from the virus to 26,126. Another 1,485 new cases were also announced, for a countywide pandemic total of 1,460,645.

The rolling average daily rate of people testing positive for the virus remained low, at about 1.7%.

According to the county Department of Public Health, there were 41 new COVID infections reported during the week ending Sept. 19 at skilled nursing facilities — 25 among residents and 16 among staff. During the week of Aug. 8, there were 123 new cases reported at skilled nursing facilities.

The county noted, however, that more than half of the 41 cases reported during the week ending Sept. 19 occurred among staff and residents who were fully vaccinated.

County officials said 88% of skilled nursing facility staff in the are fully vaccinated, and 91% of staff. A mandate that took effect Thursday requires all staff at SNFs to be fully vaccinated against COVID, while those receiving medical or religious exemptions must undergo twice-weekly testing.

“We thank all healthcare workers complying with the state and county vaccination requirements,” county Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer said in a statement Friday. “Their support ensures we are protecting each other and our patients as we comply with these and other public health safety measures.

“We also support the state as they plan to add COVID-19 to the list of already required vaccines for schools,” she said. “Among L.A. County teens 12 to 17 years old eligible for the vaccine, 59% are fully vaccinated. With vaccines an extremely safe and highly protective defense against COVID-19, we remain focused on increasing vaccination rates as quickly as possible.”

Figures Ferrer provided Thursday showed 77% of eligible Los Angeles County residents aged 12 and over have received at least one vaccine dose, and 69% are fully vaccinated. Among the county’s overall 10.3 million population, including those under age 12 who aren’t yet eligible for shots, 66% have received at least one dose and 59% are fully vaccinated.

While Ferrer said the overall numbers are impressive, “millions of eligible residents remain unvaccinated.”

Black residents continue to have the lowest vaccination rate in the county, with just 54% of Black residents having received at least one dose. Latino/a residents have a 62% vaccination rate, while 72% of white residents have at least one dose and 81% of Asians.

Starting next Thursday, at least one dose of vaccine will be required for anyone attending an outdoor mega-event of 10,000 or more people in the county, and for anyone patronizing or working at an indoor bar, brewery, winery or distillery. Full vaccination will be required in those settings starting Nov. 4. The city of West Hollywood has enacted a similar mandate at indoor businesses, with the same deadline, and the city of Los Angeles is expected to approve the same rule next week.

Los Angeles Unified School District students taking part in extracurricular activities must be fully vaccinated by Oct. 31, while all district students must be fully vaccinated by Dec. 19

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