Los Angeles County reports nearly 10,000 daily new COVID cases

Los Angeles County on Friday reported nearly 10,000 daily new cases of COVID-19, more than triple the amount of daily new cases the county had been reporting earlier in the week.

Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer warned Wednesday that if infections continue such a dramatic rise, the daily case number could top 20,000 by the end of the year, reaching the highest level of the pandemic.

RELATED: LA County's daily COVID cases spike past 8,600 amid omicron surge

On Friday, the county logged a staggering 9,988 new COVID-19 cases, bringing the cumulative total since the start of the pandemic to 1,595,239.

The county also reported 21 additional deaths from the virus, bringing the total death count to 27,533.

Hospitalizations topped 800 on Friday, the highest amount the county has seen since early October. Ferrer noted Wednesday that hospitalization numbers have thus far remained relatively stable, crediting COVID vaccines for preventing infected people from becoming seriously ill.

Ferrer said the vast majority of people being hospitalized due to the virus are unvaccinated, insisting that hospitalization numbers for vaccinated residents have remained low and flat since the shots became available. According to county figures, the hospitalization rate for unvaccinated people was 25 per 100,000 residents as of Wednesday, compared to just 1 per 100,000 for the vaccinated.

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The surge in COVID infections is blamed primarily on rapid spread of the Omicron variant, which was first discovered in South Africa and has quickly migrated around the globe, including all 50 U.S. states. Health officials have said there is no evidence Omicron can cause more severe illness, but it can readily spread from person to person, including those who are vaccinated.

Ferrer said the benefit of vaccination is that it will prevent a COVID infection from causing severe illness or death.

As of Sunday, 78% of eligible county residents aged 5 and up have received at least one dose of vaccine, and 70% were fully vaccinated. Of the county's overall 10.3 million residents, 74% have received at least one dose, and 66% are fully vaccinated.

Black residents continue to have the lowest vaccination rate overall, at just 56% with at least one dose. Among Latino/a residents, the rate is 62%, compared to 75% of white residents and 84% of Asians.

Ferrer said the county is not immediately considering a return to lockdown or other severe restrictions on public activity, but it will depend on the actions residents take to slow spread of the virus.

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CNS contributed to this report.