The daily number of new COVID-19 infections in Los Angeles County inched upward again Friday, reaching levels not seen in about six weeks, as health officials continued urging people to get tested if they develop symptoms of the virus, even if they are vaccinated.
The county’s daily testing-positivity rate also inched up, reported at 0.8% on Friday, up from 0.74% on Thursday.
Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer said Thursday that the county was seeing slight but definite increases in average daily infections, hospitalizations and testing-positivity rates — but not sharp enough to spark immediate concerns of spiking cases.
But she said with the continuing spread of the infectious “Delta” variant of virus, which is blamed for rampant infections in India and parts of the United Kingdom, the small increases should be a warning to those who remain unvaccinated to take other precautions, such as mask-wearing and social distancing.
She has repeatedly said COVID-19 is now a pandemic of unvaccinated people — with Black residents seeing a disproportionate share of the recent case and hospitalization increases, reflective of their low vaccination rate.
“Now that we have reopened and safety modifications have been lifted in most settings, we must continue to increase vaccinations,” Ferrer said in a statement Friday. “While COVID-19 deaths have dropped dramatically in L.A. County, the deaths that continue to occur are almost 100% among unvaccinated adults. Ninety-nine percent of individuals hospitalized with COVID-19 in L.A. County since January have been unvaccinated.
“While masking and distancing remain effective means for reducing transmission, the most powerful tool we have for keeping cases down and protecting ourselves and others are the COVID-19 vaccines,” she said.
The county reported five additional COVID-19 deaths on Friday, raising the countywide death toll from the virus to 24,470.
Another 336 cases were reported, giving the county a cumulative total of 1,248,737 from throughout the pandemic. On Thursday, the county reported 314 new cases, and Ferrer said that was the highest daily number since May 15.
According to state figures, there were 229 people hospitalized in the county due to COVID-19 as of Friday, down from 234 on Thursday. There were 57 people in intensive care, down from 64 the previous day.
Ferrer stressed the level of protection offered by the COVID vaccines, releasing statistics showing that between Dec. 7 and June 7, 99.6% of all new COVID infections in the county involved people who were not vaccinated. Of the people who were hospitalized due to the virus in that time period, 98.7% were unvaccinated. And among those who died, 99.8% were unvaccinated.
As of June 20, more than 10.2 million doses of vaccine had been administered in the county, with 67% of residents age 16 and over having at least one dose, and 58% fully vaccinated.
The county will continue offering incentives for people to get vaccinated. Beginning Friday and continuing through next Thursday, people age 18 and older who get vaccinated at sites operated by the county, city of Los Angeles or St. John’s Well Child and Family Center will be entered for a chance to win one of two season ticket packages to Six Flags, the Los Angeles Zoo, the Natural History Museum and the La Brea Tar Pits, along with ticket packs for the California Science Center.
The contest is open to anyone who comes to one of the participating sites for a first dose of vaccine, or anyone who is obtaining a second dose and brings a first-dose patient with them.
>> Want to read more stories like this? Get our Free Daily Newsletters Here!Follow us: