LOS ANGELES (CNS) — As COVID-19 case numbers continue to rise, Los Angeles County hospitals will likely soon be overwhelmed with patients, the county’s health director said Thursday, noting that increasing outbreaks in skilled care facilities are already leading to a have led to more severe infection -Control measures.
what you need to know
- The tightening of rules comes as the county continues to see a spike in cases
- Another 6,245 COVID infections were reported in LA County on Thursday, one of the largest single-day tally in weeks
- The county’s cumulative seven-day rate of new cases is now 280 per 100,000 people, up from 246 a week ago
- On Thursday, state figures showed 429 COVID-positive patients were being treated in county hospitals, up from 410 on Wednesday
With 21 COVID outbreaks at skilled nursing facilities recently recorded across the county, staff at such facilities are now required to wear N95 level masks at all times and undergo testing twice weekly, while residents are required to undergo weekly testing. All communal meals have also been halted, said Barbara Ferrer, the county’s director of public health.
All non-essential indoor group activities will also be paused, she said.
The tightening of rules comes as the county continues to see a spike in cases. Another 6,245 COVID infections were reported in the county on Thursday. Over the past seven days, the county has averaged more than 4,200 new infections per day, and the rate of people testing positive for the virus daily rose to 4.1% from 3.8% the day before.
The county’s cumulative seven-day rate of new cases is now 280 per 100,000 people, up from 246 a week ago. The rate firmly places the county in the “intermediate” category for viral activity from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
At this time, the county’s COVID-related hospital statistics are still low enough to prevent the county from moving into the CDC’s “high” activity category. A shift to “high” would mean a return to mandatory mask wearing indoors.
According to CDC guidelines, counties will move to high in the moderate category when the rate of new virus-related hospitalizations reaches 10 per 100,000 population or when 10% of the county’s occupied hospital beds are occupied by COVID-positive patients.
Ferrer said the county’s current rate of virus-related hospitalizations is now 4.5 per 100,000 — double the rate a month ago — and the rate of staffed beds occupied by COVID patients is currently 2.3%.
While those numbers are well below the level of the “high” category, Ferrer noted that “if we continue on current course, we could find cases and hospitalizations that will weigh on our hospital system in just a few weeks.”
On Thursday, state figures showed 429 COVID-positive patients were being treated in county hospitals, up from 410 on Wednesday. The number of patients treated in intensive care was 55, up slightly from 52 the day before.
Though health officials have noted that many of the COVID-positive patients were hospitalized for reasons other than the virus, Ferrer said they still require advanced levels of care, which puts a strain on medical centers.
“They require a lot of different resources that are of a higher intensity, so in and of themselves they put more stress on the system,” she said.
She added: “If we don’t interrupt this increase in transmission, there will be an impact on the healthcare system. The more cases you have … the greater the burden on the healthcare system.”
Ferrer also noted that more and more infectious strains of the virus are proliferating. In the most recent round of specialized testing to identify variants, 36.4% of the cases tested were the result of a subvariant called BA.2.12.1. This subvariant is thought to be exponentially more transmissible than its parent BA.2 variant, and far more transmissible than the Omicron variant, which in some cases induced a winter spurt.
Another variant, BA.2.3, is also slowly emerging in the county and accounts for 7.6% of the cases tested in the most recent sample.
Ferrer said the current vaccines are still proving effective against all variants – not necessarily preventing infection, but generally resulting in less serious illness in those infected.
Ferrer reported an additional nine COVID-related deaths on Thursday. She said the county now has a seven-day average of about seven deaths a day. The new deaths gave the county a total of 32,109 virus-related deaths.
The 6,245 new infections brought the county’s cumulative total throughout the pandemic to 2,955,954.