LOS ANGELES - The number of people hospitalized due to COVID-19 in Los Angeles County topped 400 today, continuing a slow but steady month-long increase that has prompted concern among health care officials and led to another call from Gov. Gavin Newsom for people to get vaccinated.
"I cannot impress upon you more the power of getting vaccinated," Newsom said during an appearance in Bell Gardens. ``If we. want to extinguish this pandemic, this disease, we've got to get vaccinated. Period. Full stop. You're seeing again around the rest of the world -- read the headlines in Indonesia right now. Read the headlines in Portugal right now. Read the headlines in the United States of America right now."
COVID-19 infection numbers have been rising steadily in recent weeks, a rise being blamed on the continued spread of the "Delta" variant of the virus, which is considered vastly more contagious than other COVID mutations. The variant, which was responsible for wide-scale infections in India and parts of the United Kingdom, has been spreading domestically. Los Angeles County health officials said the Delta variant has been increasing in prevalence since April. Statewide, 43% of sequenced COVID samples last week were found to be the Delta variant.
Los Angeles County on Tuesday reported 1,103 new COVID-19 infections, marking the fifth day in a row the daily number has topped 1,000. In mid-June, the county was reporting daily numbers around 200. The rate of people testing positive for the virus in mid-June was 0.3%, but that rate was up to 2.9% on Tuesday.
The 1,103 new COVID lifted the county's cumulative total from throughout the pandemic to 1,259,772. The county also reported 12 new fatalities due to the virus on Tuesday, increasing the death toll to 24,554.
With rising case numbers have come increasing hospitalizations.
According to state figures, there were 406 people hospitalized in Los Angeles County due to COVID as of Wednesday. The number is still well below the winter surge hospitalizations that topped 8,000, but it's a near-doubling of the numbers seen just a month ago.
The rise is sparking concern among health officials. According to officials at Cedars-Sinai, the emergency room has seen a sevenfold increase in COVID patients over the past two weeks.
"Less than a month ago we were seeing one or two cases a day related to COVID-19 symptoms, but within the last two weeks, that number has risen to seven to 15 cases," said Dr. Sam Torbati, medical director of the Cedars-Sinai emergency department.
Torbati said the patients are predominantly unvaccinated people between 20 and 40 years old who would not have gotten sick if they had been vaccinated.