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LA County COVID-Positive Hospital Patient Number Tops 4,000

The number of COVID-positive patients in Los Angeles County hospitals topped the 4,000 mark Thursday as the highly contagious Omicron variant continued to fuel a winter surge in infections.

According to state figures, there were 4,175 COVID-19-positive patients in county hospitals as of Thursday, with 586 of them being treated in intensive care. That’s up from 3,912 total patients and 536 in the ICU on Wednesday.

The hospital number is the highest it has been since early February 2021.

County Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer said Thursday the rise in COVID patients is pushing the county’s overall hospital patient population to levels rivaling those during last winter’s case surge. She said the daily overall patient census — both COVID and non-COVID — is about 15,000 in the county, close to last winter’s peak of 16,500.

She also noted that rising hospitalizations are a natural consequence of rising case numbers, as are deaths, which are likely to keep increasing, even after infection figures begin declining.

“And while it’s reassuring that much of the scientific evidence to date suggests that Omicron causes milder illness for many people, particularly those vaccinated and boosted, we still have no idea what percent of those recently infected with Omicron will experience long COVID, or the likelihood of children infected with Omicron developing MIS-C after their initial infection,” Ferrer said, referring to the inflammatory syndrome that occurs in some children.

“Given this uncertainty, it remains prudent to continue to take all the protections possible to minimize your exposure to this highly infectious variant,” she said.

On Thursday, the county reported 45 new COVID-related deaths, continuing a disturbing upward trend. A total of 39 deaths were reported Wednesday, the highest number since September. All of the deaths reported Wednesday occurred this month, likely reflecting an increase associated with the higher December case and hospitalization numbers.

The county also continued seeing disturbingly high numbers of new infections, with 45,076 new cases reported Thursday.

To date, the county has reported 27,895 COVID-related deaths and 2,131,523 cases since the pandemic began.

Thursday’s rolling daily rate of people testing positive for the virus was 20.8%.

Ferrer again urged residents to avoid dangerous activities in the coming weeks, particularly those that are indoors and involve mingling with unvaccinated or higher-risk people. She also stressed that while the Omicron variant is easily capable of infecting vaccinated people, the shots are still proving to be effective in preventing infected people from winding up hospitalized.

“While we have tools that help, there is growing frustration over the seemingly endless changes in guidance, the short supply of tests and the reality that those vaccinated and boosted may also become infected,” Ferrer said. “Since this is an accurate assessment of our current reality, I think we’ll need to remind ourselves that we’ve survived similar challenges multiple times over the past two years.

“And while it’s not where we had all hoped to be at this moment in time, we’re going to need to find our reserves and continue to do our very best to slow the spread,” she said. “It is way too risky for too many people to not continue to take precautions and to make those strategic decisions that minimize unnecessary exposures. We need our schools and workplaces to remain open, and this is most possible if we continue to work together and take sensible precautions.”

She called on residents to get vaccinated and obtain booster shots; wear upgraded masks such as N95, KN95 or KF94 varieties; and get tested, saying the county dramatically expanded testing availability after shortages two weeks ago that led to long lines at some test centers.

As of Sunday, 80% of eligible county residents aged 5 and up have received at least one vaccine dose, and 72% are fully vaccinated. Of the county’s overall population of 10.3 million people, 76% have one dose, and 68% are fully vaccinated.

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Posted inOC

LA County COVID-Positive Hospital Patient Number Tops 4,000

The number of COVID-positive patients in Los Angeles County hospitals topped the 4,000 mark Thursday as the highly contagious Omicron variant continued to fuel a winter surge in infections.

According to state figures, there were 4,175 COVID-19-positive patients in county hospitals as of Thursday, with 586 of them being treated in intensive care. That’s up from 3,912 total patients and 536 in the ICU on Wednesday.

The hospital number is the highest it has been since early February 2021.

On Wednesday, the county reported 39 COVID-related deaths, the highest daily number announced since Sept. 22.

County Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer said earlier this week that the number of COVID-related deaths has remained relatively stable despite the surge in infections. But she noted that deaths tend to increase following spikes in hospitalizations, which have been occurring over the past month.

All of the deaths reported Wednesday occurred this month, likely reflecting an increase associated with the higher December case and hospitalization numbers.

Wednesday’s rolling daily rate of people testing positive for the virus was 20.4%.

As more students and staff returned to in-person learning this week amid the surge in cases, routine testing at schools across many districts identified thousands of students and staff infected with COVID-19.

For the week of Jan. 3 through Jan. 9, 547,466 tests were administered across school districts in the county, with most testing occurring for LAUSD students and staff. Last week, 80,424 positive cases were identified, including 68,560 cases among LAUSD staff and students, resulting in a test positivity rate of 14.6%.

A total of three outbreaks among youth sports teams were also identified last week, with an additional 26 school-related outbreaks still being monitored.

“As schools reopen countywide, we are seeing a high number of students and staff testing positive reflecting the explosive rate of community spread,” Ferrer said in a statement Wednesday.

“Given the importance of ensuring that our schools remain safe for in-person learning, layering in protections is a most sensible approach. Masking indoors and in crowded outdoor spaces reduces transmission opportunities; testing those who are close contacts of infected students or school staff can quickly identify others who may now be infected, and limit continued spread; and, making it easy for those eligible to get their booster doses helps ensure that immune systems are best primed to repel the virus.”

Ferrer has urged residents to avoid dangerous activities in the coming weeks, particularly those that are indoors and involve mingling with unvaccinated or higher-risk people.

She also stressed that while the Omicron variant is easily capable of infecting vaccinated people, the shots are still proving to be effective in preventing infected people from winding up hospitalized.

She said unvaccinated people are nine times more likely to be hospitalized than fully vaccinated people, and 38 times more likely to be hospitalized than people who are fully vaccinated and received a booster shot.

Health officials have said previously that about 90% of people who died from COVID-19 had underlying health conditions.

Dr. Christina Ghaly, the county’s health services director, has said that despite rising patient numbers, the Omicron-fueled surge is playing out differently in hospitals than earlier surges. She said last fall, about one-third of COVID patients wound up in ICU care, but that number is only about 10% to 15% this time around, at least in the four county-operated hospitals, which likely reflect conditions in other medical centers.

She also said that about 40% of COVID-positive patients at the county hospitals were admitted specifically because of the virus, while the rest only learned they were infected upon admission for something else. During the last surge, 80% to 90% of the COVID patients were admitted due to virus-related illness.

Ghaly said current staffing shortages are creating more critical conditions at hospitals. She pointed to large number of health care workers who have retired or moved into non-front-line positions. She also noted that the surge in COVID infections has also impacted health care workers, leaving many unavailable to work due to illness or exposure.

The situation has also led to longer ambulance response times, in part due to large numbers of workers at private ambulance companies who have failed to meet COVID vaccination requirements, leaving them unable to work, combined with a high amount of people calling in sick.

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