LOS ANGELES (CNS) - After 13 straight days of drops, Los Angeles County saw a slight increase in the number of COVID-19-positive patients in hospitals, but the number is still dramatically lower than it was just two weeks ago, the latest data show.
According to state figures released Monday, there were 1,224 patients with COVID in county hospitals, up from 1,218 on Sunday. The number of people in intensive care was 368, up from 360.
County Department of Public Health officials noted that the number of hospitalized patients has dropped by roughly 260 over the past week, and is down by nearly 470 over the past two weeks.
The agency reported that unvaccinated people age 50 and older are more than 17 times more likely to wind up hospitalized due to COVID than vaccinated people. Hospitalizations among unvaccinated people age 18-49 are 23 times higher than their vaccinated counterparts, according to health officials.
“Out of all our nearly 10.3 million L.A. County residents, including those who are not yet eligible for the vaccine, 57% are fully vaccinated,'' county Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer said in a statement.
“This is just not enough to avoid continued surges in cases. We need to increase vaccination coverage to avoid these cycles of tremendous transmission. While we continue efforts that guarantee easy access and build confidence in vaccines, we hope that targeted vaccination requirements help us see increases in the number of people vaccinated in the coming weeks.''
The county on Monday officially announced 13 new COVID-19 deaths and 1,121 new cases -- low figures that traditionally represent reporting delays from over the weekend. The county did not release any COVID case numbers over the weekend due to upgrades being conducted on its data processing systems. As a result, the county reported an additional 67 deaths from those two days, along with another 4,569 cases.
The new figures raised the county's overall COVID death toll to 25,688, and the cumulative number of cases from throughout the pandemic to 1,433,465.
On Friday, Ferrer reported that the county has seen three consecutive weeks of decline in its weekly infection rate, an improvement she attributed in part to mask mandates and slowly rising vaccination numbers.
Under benchmarks set by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, transmission is considered in the “high'' category if there are cumulatively 100 or more new cases per 100,000 residents over the course of a week. Much of the country is currently in the “high'' transmission category.
Los Angeles County's rate, however, fell last week to 104 cases per 100,000, a “welcome'' 35% drop from the previous week, Ferrer said. If the county's rate continues to decrease and falls below 100 new cases per 100,000 residents over a seven-day period, it could move into the CDC's less-severe “substantial'' transmission category.
But Ferrer warned that a reversal of fortune could still occur.
“While we welcome the decreases, we do anticipate that with increased routine screening testing and intermingling at schools and worksites, along with Labor Day travel and gatherings, we do face the risk that our case numbers could once again increase,'' she said.
Of the nearly 5.4 million fully vaccinated people in the county as of Sept. 7, 43,598 had subsequently tested positive for COVID-19, for a rate of 0.81%, she said. A total of 1,243 fully vaccinated people have been hospitalized, for a rate of 0.023% and 165 have died, for a rate of 0.0031%.
According to the most recent numbers, 75% of eligible county residents age 12 and over have received at least one dose of vaccine, and 66% are fully vaccinated. Among the county's overall population of 10.3 million, 65% have received one dose and 57% are fully vaccinated. That population figure includes roughly 1.3 million people under age 12 who are ineligible for shots.
Black residents in the county continue to have the lowest vaccination rate, at 51% overall with at least one dose. Among Black residents age 12-15, just 35% have received at least one dose.
The average daily rate of people testing positive for the virus in the county was 1.5% as of Monday, down from 2% a week ago.
Copyright 2021, City News Service, Inc.