LOS ANGELES (CNS) - The number of new COVID-19 infections in Los Angeles County dropped by 22% over the past week compared to the previous week, while virus-related deaths and hospitalizations also fell, health officials said Thursday.
The drops were reported as the county Department of Public Health again urged residents -- particularly those in vulnerable groups -- to receive the latest vaccine booster shot to guard against severe illness from infection.
Health officials said only 42% of residents age 65 and over -- who are most vulnerable to hospitalization and death from the virus -- have received the most receive bivalent booster, which was engineered to specifically protect against the prevalent strain of COVID.
"I am feeling optimistic about the COVID numbers in Los Angeles County, and I hope to see them continue to decline," Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer said in a statement. "However, it is difficult to overlook the fact that people continue to die and be deeply impacted by this disease, more than three years on. I fear that people do not know the full risks, or that protection is available.
"I especially encourage those at higher risk for severe illness to get their bivalent booster for increased protection, even though many safety measures have been lifted. This is because every day, even with lower rates of transmission, hundreds of people in Los Angeles County get infected; those at higher risk significantly reduce their chance of experiencing a bad outcome should they get infected if they are boosted."
According to the Department of Public Health, the weekly COVID case number in the county was 2,731 over the past week, down from 3,505 the previous week. The number of weekly deaths was 53, down from 58 the prior week, and the seven-day average number of virus-related hospitalizations was 378, down from 401.
As of Tuesday, a total of 36,407 virus-related deaths had been recorded in the county. Health officials say a majority of people who die with COVID-19 are elderly or have an underlying health condition such as diabetes, heart disease or hypertension.
According to state figures, there were 364 virus-positive patients in county hospitals as of Thursday, up slightly from 361 Wednesday. Of those patients, 42 were being treated in intensive care units, up slightly from 41 a day earlier.