COVID Death - Photo courtesy of plo on Shutterstock

COVID-related hospitalizations dropped again in Los Angeles County Wednesday, with the number of patients on pace to fall below the 1,000 mark this week, but another 15 deaths and 4,829 new cases were reported by the county.

According to state figures, there were 1,009 COVID-19-positive patients in county hospitals as of Wednesday, down from 1,022 on Tuesday and continuing a steady downward trend. Of those patients, 123 were being treated in intensive care, up from 117 a day earlier.

County officials have said that roughly 43% of the COVID-positive patients were actually admitted for virus-related illness, while the others were admitted for other reasons, with some only learning they were infected when they were tested at the hospital.

The 15 new virus-related deaths gave the county an overall death toll of 32,975.

With 4,829 new cases confirmed, the county’s cumulative total from throughout the pandemic rose to 3,368,366. The number of new COVID infections reported each day by the county is believed to be an undercount of actual virus activity, since many people use at-home tests, the results of which are not always reported to the county.

The average daily rate of people testing positive for the virus was 10.4% as of Wednesday, roughly holding steady at the rate from the past week.

The county Department of Public Health urged residents Tuesday to get tested for COVID often, most notably if they have been exposed or have symptoms, before and after gatherings and when they travel. Health officials reminded residents that if they test positive, they must isolate. If they test negative but still have symptoms, they should remain at home and test again within 24 to 48 hours.

With classes resuming in most school districts, the county’s public health director urged students and staff to get tested, even if it isn’t required by their employers.

“We are hoping that all school children are testing either before going back to school or in the first week of school to avoid unnecessary spread on school campuses,” Barbara Ferrer said in a statement. “Students participating in certain extracurricular activities that are associated with elevated risk of viral spread, including medium and high contact indoor sports and indoor performing arts, may want to test weekly during times of elevated transmission, to reduce viral spread.

“Those returning from travel may also want to test themselves before heading to work, or out in the community, to be sure they didn’t bring back the virus along with their great vacation memories. And those gathering indoors should also test before getting together, particularly if gathering with others at high risk for severe illness should they become infected. Taking sensible steps to reduce risk for others benefits everyone as it diminishes the disruptions and heartache associated with COVID-19.”

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