COVID-19 hospitalization numbers continued trending upward in Los Angeles County Tuesday, with the latest state figures showing nearly 900 people being treated for the virus, with unvaccinated people overwhelmingly more likely to wind up admitted to medical centers.
According to state numbers released Tuesday, there were 891 people hospitalized due to COVID in the county, up from 825 the previous day. That’s the highest number since March 13, and more than double the number from July 12, when the county reported 372 people hospitalized.
There were 195 people in intensive care, up from 182 reported on Monday, according to the state.
The numbers, while increasing, are still well below the more than 8,000 people hospitalized during the winter surge.
The county reported another 2,067 COVID infections on Tuesday, lifting the cumulative county total from throughout the pandemic to 1,287,831.
Another 15 deaths due to COVID were also reported, raising the county’s death toll to 24,643.
Speaking to the county Board of Supervisors, Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer said the county has been averaging daily new cases between 2,000 and 2,500 over the past week.
“We are accustomed to seeing hospitalizations rise as a lagging indicator compared with cases, usually increasing two to three weeks after we begin to see our case numbers increase,” she said. “… Because of this lag, it probably is too early to say with certainty whether the uptick we’re seeing in hospitalizations is the beginning of a small wave of hospitalizations or whether it’s the start of a more devastating surge.”
She said that given the numbers of people who are vaccinated in the county, she remains hopeful the county won’t see a repeat of the winter surge in cases, which led to more than 8,000 people being hospitalized.
According to Ferrer, of all the people hospitalized in the county in June, 92% were either unvaccinated entirely or not fully vaccinated. The figure was 95% in May. For the first 10 days of July, the rate is 91%.
Among people dying from the virus, 99.8% of the COVID fatalities in the county during the first six month of the year occurred among the unvaccinated, Ferrer said. The rate was 96% from April 1 to June 30, a period during which vaccines were more widely available.
Health officials have repeatedly blamed the recent surge in cases on the highly infectious Delta variant of the coronavirus. The variant was first discovered in India and is blamed for rampant infections in that country, along with outbreaks in the United Kingdom. It is now spreading across the United States, contributing to rising case numbers and hospitalizations.
The average daily rate of people testing positive for COVID-19 in the county was 5.7% as of Tuesday, up from 5.2% on Monday and well above the 1.2% rate on June 15, when most COVID restrictions were lifted across the state.
Young Black and Latino residents continue to have the lowest rates of vaccination in the county. County figures shows that as of last week, 46.6% of the county’s Black population aged 16 and older have received at least one dose, compared to 56% of Latinos, 66.8% of white residents and 76.9% of Asians.
As a result, Black residents also have the highest rate of new infections. During the two-week period ending July 17, Black residents has an infection rate of 309 per 100,000 residents, up from 52 per 100,000 a month earlier. White residents had the second-highest infection rate, at 150 per 100,000, followed by Latinos at 104 per 100,000 and Asians at 61 per 100,000.
Black residents also had the highest rate of hospitalizations during that two-week period, at 23.4 per 100,000 residents.
Most recent figures from the county show that about 71% of residents aged 16 and older have received at least one dose of COVID vaccine, and 62% are fully vaccinated. Among seniors aged 65 and older, 88% have received at least one dose, and 79% are fully vaccinated.
In hopes of encouraging more people to get vaccinated, the county is continuing to offer incentives. Through Thursday, anyone who gets vaccinated at sites operated by the county, the city of Los Angeles or St. John’s Well Child and Family Center will be entered for a chance to win one of seven three-concert ticket packages at AEG venues, for a variety of acts.
County health officials said last week that unvaccinated people are five times more likely to be infected by COVID-19 as vaccinated people. On Monday, state officials said the average daily infection rate among unvaccinated people across California was nearly seven times higher than that of vaccinated people.
Although some fully vaccinated people have still been infected with COVID-19, they are highly unlikely to become seriously ill or require hospitalization, health officials said. The county reported last week that 20% of all new infections reported in the county in June were among fully vaccinated people.