LOS ANGELES (CNS) - Los Angeles County has registered 38 more COVID-19 deaths, along with 723 new infections, while the number of virus-positive patients in county hospitals continued to shrink.
The 38 new fatalities reported Friday lifted the county's overall death toll from the virus to 31,443. The county's cumulative number of infections since the pandemic began rose to 2,820,159.
According to state figures, there were 471 COVID-positive patients in county hospitals as of Friday, down from 495 on Thursday. The number of those patients being treated in intensive care was 76, down from 85 a day earlier.
The rolling average daily rate of people testing positive for the virus in the county was 0.7% as of Friday. That rate has remained largely unchanged for the past week.
County Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer told reporters Thursday that the county's virus metrics have continued a steady decline, but said officials are keeping a close watch on the spread of the BA.2 Omicron sub- variant of the virus. BA.2 has been spreading rapidly in some countries, and Ferrer noted that it is believed to be about 30% more contagious than Omicron.
The county has recorded cases of BA.2 locally, and Ferrer said it will likely soon become the dominant strain of the virus.
In a statement Friday, Ferrer said that as long the virus continues to spread -- even at a far slower pace than during the winter surge -- people should continue taking reasonable precautions, particularly in workplaces.
``While we are all enjoying having the surge behind us, many front- line workers, with dozens of worksite exposures each day, remain at higher risk and are worried about becoming infected and possibly spreading COVID-19 to others,'' she said. ``We ask that everyone continue to layer in, as appropriate, protections for our workforce members who have, throughout the pandemic, taken on personal risk to provide all of us with essential services. I encourage residents to help protect the thousands of front-line workers who are at elevated risk by supporting those businesses who properly protect their workers.''