COVID-19 cases spiking in LA County as cold weather returns

Los Angeles County reported 4,353 new cases of COVID-19 in its latest data, a big spike in daily infections that underscores the seriousness of the latest cold-weather surge in transmission.

The rate of daily cases has been steadily rising in recent weeks, but Wednesday's number was by far the largest single-day total in quite a while, and follows Tuesday's total of 2,370 cases. The county has now logged 3,542,744 infections since the pandemic began in early 2020.

Overall official case numbers are believed to be artificially low, due to residents who use at-home tests and do not report the results to the county, and others who do not get tested at all.

The county also saw another sizeable increase in its number of COVID- positive hospital patients, which rose by 92 people to 1,132, with 122 being treated in intensive care.

The statewide total of coronavirus patients jumped to 3,737, an increase of 205 from the previous day's total.

Health officials have said previously that roughly 40% of virus patients were actually admitted to hospitals for COVID-related issues, while the rest were admitted for other reasons but tested positive at the hospital.

The seven-day daily average rate of people testing positive for the virus was 13.4%, up from a revised 10.8% last Thursday.

The Los Angeles Department of Public Health also reported 10 additional deaths associated with COVID-19 on Wednesday, bringing the cumulative death toll to 34,187. Officials have said the majority of COVID- related fatalities occur in the elderly and those with pre-existing health conditions.

The county has been seeing steadily rising case and hospitalization numbers since the beginning of November, prompting health officials to again "strongly recommend" that people wear masks at indoor public settings.

Masks are still required indoors at health-care and congregate-care facilities, for anyone exposed to the virus in the past 10 days, and at locations where they are required by the operator.

Health officials have been warning about a possible surge not only of COVID-19 during the winter months, but also of flu and respiratory syncytial virus, or RSV. Authorities have repeatedly urged residents to ensure they are up to date on COVID-19 vaccines and boosters, and to get a flu shot.

A fully vaccinated person can still contract and transmit COVID, but health officials say the vaccines offer protection against developing severe symptoms that can result in hospitalization and even death.