Nurse treats COVID-19 patient in ICU
A nurse treats a coronavirus patient in an ICU. Image from Scripps Health video

The number of COVID-positive patients in Los Angeles County hospitals jumped over the 400 mark again, and the county reported nearly 3,600 new infections, according to the latest data.

State figures show there were 419 hospital patients with COVID in the county as of Tuesday, up from 391 on Monday. Of those patients, 53 were being treated in intensive care, the same as Monday.

Health officials have noted recently that the vast majority of COVID-positive patients in hospitals were admitted for reasons unrelated to the virus, and many only discovered they were infected when they were tested at the hospital.

The overall number of hospital patients has held relatively steady in recent weeks in spite of a sharp increase in the number of COVID infections — a statistic health officials attribute to growing protection from vaccinations and prior infections. The number rose above 400 over the weekend but quickly fell, until rising again Tuesday.

But the increase in cases has authorities on edge, noting that previous surges during the pandemic have led to swelling hospital numbers and eventually deaths. The county last week was moved from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s “low” virus-activity level to “medium.”

The move didn’t trigger any additional health restrictions locally, but that would change if virus-related hospital numbers spike upward.

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.

As of last week, the county’s rate of new COVID-related admissions was 3.4 per 100,000 residents, and the rate of hospital beds occupied by COVID-positive patients was roughly 1.7%.

On Tuesday, the county reported 3,589 new COVID infections, giving the county a cumulative total from throughout the pandemic of 2,945,669. Another nine deaths were recorded, raising the overall death toll in the county to 32,095.

The average daily rate of people testing positive for the virus was 3.5% as of Tuesday, roughly the same as the past week.

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