COVID-19 hospitalizations increase again in LA County

Los Angeles County reported 3,045 new cases of COVID-19 and five additional deaths Sunday, with officials noting that those numbers may reflect delays in weekend reporting.

The number of coronavirus patients in county hospitals continued to spike, rising from 1,071 Saturday to 1,096, according to state figures. The number of those patients in intensive care rose from 231 to 236. 

The new figures bring the county's cumulative totals to 1,303,343 cases and 24,685 fatalities since the pandemic began, according to the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health.

"Over the past eight months, millions of people in the U.S., and around the world, have been safely vaccinated. The data overwhelmingly shows the vaccines to be effective at preventing serious illness that causes hospitalization, and death,'' Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer said on Saturday. "To really beat back transmission, however, we need to have higher levels of vaccination, particularly among our younger residents.''

Ferrer said Thursday the rise seen in recent weeks in the positivity rate and new case numbers was showing signs of slowing, offering some hope the surge may be leveling off. She said hospitalizations are expected to continue rising, since that number traditionally increases following rises in overall case numbers.

The county has been experiencing sharp increases in daily case numbers, hospitalizations and test-positivity rates over the past several weeks, with the increases attributed to the highly infectious Delta variant of the coronavirus.

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As expected with the surge in COVID cases among the general public, the county's homeless population has also seen a sharp increase in infections in recent weeks. For the week that ended July 25, 111 new cases were confirmed among the homeless, up 21% from the previous week.

Throughout the pandemic, 7,588 COVID cases have been reported among the homeless, and 216 have died.

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County figures show that as of July 27, among 4.9 million fully vaccinated residents, 10,656 tested positive for the virus, for a rate of 0.22%. That rate marks a 63% increase from a week ago, but still remains statistically low.

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Among the vaccinated people, only 410 were hospitalized, for a rate of 0.008%, and only 35 died, a rate of 0.0007%. From Jan. 1 through June 30 of this year, 99.8% of the people who died from COVID-19 were unvaccinated or only partially vaccinated, Ferrer said.

While the pace of vaccinations has slowed significantly, Ferrer said the county has now seen two consecutive weeks of small increases in the number of people receiving a first dose. Between July 19 and 25, about 70,000 doses were administered in the county, up about 7,500 from the previous week. Vaccination rates remain low among younger residents, particularly in the Black community. As of July 25, only 30% of Black residents age 16-17 and 18-29 had received at least one shot, roughly half of the rate of their white counterparts. Only 24% of Black residents aged 12-15 had at least one dose, also half the rate for white residents.

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Overall, Black residents had the lowest overall rate of vaccination, at 46%, compared to 55% for Latinos, 66% for white residents and 77% for Asians.

Of the county's 10.3 million overall residents, 60% have received at least one dose, and 52% are fully vaccinated. Roughly 1.3 million residents under age 12 remain ineligible for the vaccine.