LOS ANGELES (CNS) - The number of COVID-19-positive patients in Los Angeles County hospitals fell Friday, reflecting with health officials say has been a steady downward trend in cases and other pandemic metrics.
According to state figures, there were 1,206 COVID-positive patients hospitalized in the county as of Friday, down from 1,254 on Thursday. Of those patients, 126 were being treated in intensive care.
Another 19 virus-related fatalities were reported by the county Department of Public Health, raising the local death toll from throughout the pandemic to 32,826.
The county also reported another 4,864 new infections, giving the county a cumulative pandemic total of 3,325,622.
The seven-day average daily rate of people testing positive for the virus was 12.8% as of Friday.
The county on Thursday had hoped to fall out of the federal government's "high" virus activity category and into the "medium" category. But the average daily rate of new COVID-related hospital admissions just missed the threshold for the "medium" rating.
Under metrics developed by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, a county is considered in a "high" activity category if its average daily rate of COVID-related hospital admissions tops 10 per 100,000 residents. The CDC updates the numbers every Thursday.
County Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer said numbers posted by the CDC on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday of this week were all low enough to warrant the move to "medium." But on Thursday, CDC figures put the county's COVID-admission rate at 10.1 per 100,000 residents, slightly above the threshold for "high" virus activity.
"While this is disappointing, given that the county- and CDC- calculated hospital admission rate has been at or below 10 for the last few days, we do remain hopeful that this number can be adjusted soon so that the county will be officially moved into the `medium' community level," Ferrer said in an online media briefing Thursday.
The county remaining in the "high" virus-activity level has no practical impact for residents. The county had previously announced plans to re- impose an indoor mask-wearing mandate if the county remained in the "high" category for two consecutive weeks. But Ferrer announced last week that in light of declining case and hospitalization numbers, the county would delay such a move.
Mask-wearing indoors remains only "strongly recommended" by the county, although it is still required in select settings, such as aboard transit vehicles, in airports, in health care settings, correctional facilities and homeless shelters.
Ferrer on Friday urged people to continue getting vaccinated or receiving booster shots against the virus. She particularly urged parents to get their children vaccinated, with the new school year rapidly approaching.
"Over the past several months, vaccines for the youngest children, between the age of 6 months and 4 years, are among the most recent to become available," she said in a statement. "Let us continue to take care of each other, and our communities, by being fully vaccinated. We have made great strides in protecting our most vulnerable residents, and I am grateful for everyone who continues to care about the health of our community as summer transitions to fall."
The county on Wednesday began offering doses of the recently approved Novavax COVID-19 vaccine. Ferrer said the vaccine is a more traditional protein- based shot, rather than the mRNA technology used in the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines. She told the Board of Supervisors this week she hoped the introduction of a more traditional vaccine might convince those who were hesitant to receive the Pfizer or Moderna shots to get vaccinated.
County locations offering the Novavax shots can be found on the website vaccinatelacounty.com.
Residents can also contact their health care provider to see if it offers Novavax.
Residents 18 years and older can get the Novavax vaccine, which is a two-dose primary series, with the second dose administered three weeks after the first. Boosters are not recommended, and the Novavax vaccine is not authorized for children 17 and younger.