LOS ANGELES (CNS) - Los Angeles County has reported 366 new cases of COVID-19 and seven additional deaths, as the number of new infections continued to inch upward.
Saturday's figures brought the county's totals to 1,249,065 cases and 24,474 fatalities since the pandemic began, the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health said.
According to state figures, there were 231 people hospitalized in the county due to COVID-19 as of Saturday, up from 229 on Friday. There were 55 COVID patients in intensive care, down from 57 the previous day.
Over the past several days, the daily number of new cases has reached 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% as of Saturday, 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 about 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 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.
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.