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

Los Angeles County logged more than 12,000 new COVID-19 infections over the past three days amid continued rapid spread of the virus, but the number of COVID-positive patients in county hospitals held generally steady.

According to the county Department of Public Health, 5,152 new cases were recorded Saturday, 4,750 on Sunday and 2,476 Monday. The county does not report case numbers on weekends.

The new infections lifted the county’s cumulative total from throughout the pandemic to 2,942,149.

Another 14 deaths from the past three days were also confirmed, raising the overall virus-related death toll in the county to 32,086.

As of Monday, there were 391 COVID-positive patients in county hospitals, up from 385 on Sunday and below the 402 number from Saturday. Of those patients, 53 were being treated in intensive care, up from 49 a day earlier.

The average daily rate of people testing positive for the virus was 3% as of Monday, down slightly from the weekend.

COVID case numbers have been rising steadily in recent weeks, thanks to spread of highly infectious variants of the virus, most notably the BA.2 variant and the BA.2.12.1 subvariant. Last week, the county was moved from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control’s “low” virus-activity category to “medium.”

“The numbers in LA County are increasing across nearly all of our metrics reflecting the reality of the dominance of highly infectious mutated variants,” county Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer said in a statement. “To protect those who are most vulnerable, we need to take care of each other by creating barriers to the transmission of the virus. This happens when we are up-to-date on vaccinations and boosters, wear a mask when indoors and around others, and get tested to know our status if we feel sick, have been exposed, or are gathering indoors. None of this is particularly hard and these actions protect the elderly, those with underlying health conditions, and those with many potential exposures at their worksites or in the community.”

On Friday, county health officials extended the mask-wearing requirement on public transit and at transportation hubs.

The health order was issued in late April, requiring masks on transit vehicles and at hubs such as airports and train stations. The county Department of Public Health announced Friday the mandate has been extended for another 30 days or until the county sees a sharp drop in virus transmission, whichever comes first.

The county still is not mandating mask-wearing in all indoor public settings, but it is being strongly recommended. Masks would become mandatory indoors if the county slips into the “high” COVID level. Reaching that mark would require a sharp increase in COVID-related hospitalizations.

Under CDC guidelines, counties in the “medium” category will move to “high” if the rate of new virus-related hospital admissions reaches 10 per 100,000 residents, or if 10% of the county’s staffed hospital beds are occupied by COVID-positive patients.

County Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer said Thursday the county’s current rate of new COVID-related admissions is 3.4 per 100,000 residents, and the rate of hospital beds occupied by COVID-positive patients is roughly 1.7%.

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