LOS ANGELES (CNS) - While Los Angeles County remains in the "low" COVID-19 activity category, the public health director continues to urge vigilance even as various states of emergency come to an end.
"It is a great relief to see that we remain in the low community level and my sincere hope is that we are entering a new phase with less devastation, severe illness, and death as residents continue to take advantage of the protections available," Barbara Ferrer said in a statement. "Over the next few months, emergency orders at the federal and state level will lift, but we must not let go of all the lessons learned since March 2020, including those about how the virus spreads and how we can limit transmission and serious outcomes."
She again urged people to get vaccinated and boosted, noting that while people may still get infected with the virus, they will be less susceptible to severe illness or death. She noted that during the 30-day period ending Jan. 17, unvaccinated people were hospitalized at a rate six times higher than those who were fully vaccinated with the latest booster.
Unvaccinated people also died at a rate four times higher than vaccinated people, according to the county.
The county reported 1,417 new COVID infections on Friday, raising the overall total from throughout the pandemic to 3,680,571. The daily case numbers released by the county's Department of Public Health are undercounts of actual virus activity, due to people who use at-home tests and don't report the results, and others who don't test at all.
Another 19 virus-related deaths were reported, giving the county a death toll of 35,325.
According to state figures, there were 687 COVID-positive patients in Los Angeles County hospitals as of Friday, down from 707 on Thursday. Of those patients, 72 were being treated in intensive care units, down from 77 a day earlier.
With the county in the "low" virus-activity level, as defined by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, wearing masks indoors is now a matter of personal preference.
Masks are still required indoors at health-care and congregate-care facilities in the county, and for anyone exposed to the virus in the past 10 days, and at businesses where they are required by the owner. Masks are strongly recommended for high-risk individuals, and for people riding public transit.