According to the public health director, the BA.2 subvariant may be the predominant COVID-19 strain in Los Angeles County. However, there has been an increase in daily infections, and hospitalizations have declined.
Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer revealed that 47% of all cases of infection in the county were caused by the Omicron subvariant. This is an offshoot that caused the winter surge in cases. She said however that the percentage was based only on cases two weeks ago and that BA.2 is now likely to be responsible for more than half the county’s infection.
Last week, BA.2 accounted for about 32% infection in the county, a double the 16% rate of the week before.
The rise in local cases is due to the spread and severity of the virus. Ferrer stated that in the past seven days, there have been an average of 878 cases per day in the county, up from 660 per the previous week — roughly 33% more.
She also noted that case numbers are likely to be low because many people use home testing kits, and may not report their results even if they are positive.
While the increase in cases is alarming, it has not led to an increase in hospital admissions or in the actual rate at which people are testing positive for the virus. This remains at about 1%.
Ferrer claimed that the number COVID-positive COVID patients in county hospital has remained below 300 and reached 273 as of Thursday, state figures show.
The average daily death rate due to the virus has fallen to 13 per day over the last week, as opposed to 17 per week earlier.
She expressed concern over recent school outbreaks and reported 14 in the last week. This is due to the spreading of the BA.2 variant and the removal of indoor mask-wearing regulations at school campuses.
Ferrer said that the testing positivity rates at schools campuses are still low — lower than the countywide rate. Ferrer urged schools to improve ventilation and require weekly testing of unvaccinated students. She also suggested that exposed students be tested negative before they return to class.
The school no longer requires masks indoors, but she reminded students that they should still wear them.
Thursday’s total of 1,088 cases was reported by the county, which brings the total number of pandemic cases in the county up to 2,839480. The death toll has risen to 31,754 with the addition of 15 more deaths.
There are currently 273 COVID positive people in hospital. This is a decrease from the previous Wednesday’s 292 who were admitted. 38 of these patients are being treated in intensive care. That was down from 42 a single day earlier.
Ferrer also presented Thursday statistics on county’s overall mortality rates by ethnic groups. These numbers show sharp increases in the two years since COVID began to spread quickly. Broken down by ethnicity, the COVID epidemic pushed the mortality rate of Latino/a residents higher than that of white residents. They have historically had the lowest rate, behind only Black residents.
When looking at the total death rate, the county saw 16,566. “excess”In 2020, the year of the pandemic started, there were more deaths than in 2019. Ferrer stated that 67% of these excess deaths can be attributed to COVID-19.
She called the numbers an “somber reminder of the terrible toll that COVID-19 has had on communities across the county.”