LA County reports over 5,200 new COVID cases, 21 deaths over 2-day period

Coronavirus infections continued to mount in Los Angeles County Friday, with the health department reporting 5,244 new cases and 21 additional virus-related deaths covering Thursday and Friday.

Numbers were not updated by the county on Thursday because of the Thanksgiving holiday.

Hospitalization numbers were not immediately available as the county health department was awaiting word from the state Department of Public Health.

According to the latest state figures, there were 822 COVID-positive patients in L.A. County hospitals as of Thursday -- an increase of 28 from the previous day. Of those patients, 96 were in intensive care, down from 101 the previous day.

The county said it recorded 2,337 new cases on Friday and 2,907 on Thursday, for a two-day total of 5,244. Ten additional virus-related deaths were recorded Friday, and 11 on Thursday.

Friday's daily positivity rate, reflecting a seven-day average, was 11.2% on Friday -- up from 10.6% on Thursday and 6.5% last week.

The latest numbers bring the county's case total since the pandemic began to 3,530,105. The cumulative death total rose to 34,156.

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.

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. County Health Officer Dr. Muntu Davis noted last week that many other people who may be infected don't get tested at all.

The county has been seeing steadily rising case and hospitalization numbers since the beginning of November, prompting health officials last week 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.

"We are grateful for the support and kindness residents have shown each other as together we respond to the continued challenges of COVID-19," county Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer said in a statement Wednesday. "As we look forward to other upcoming winter holidays, getting vaccinated with the new updated fall COVID-19 booster offers you and your family additional protection as you make plans to travel, shop and gather with those you love.

"If we continue to care and protect each other by getting the new bivalent booster and wearing masks indoors we are also helping to reduce stress on our health care system and protect dedicated workforce members. The service of essential workers is truly something to be grateful for this Thanksgiving."

She again noted the persistent spread of flu and respiratory syncytial virus, or RSV, in the county, which are combining with COVID-19 to present a triple threat of respiratory illnesses. She urged residents to receive a flu shot in addition to the COVID booster vaccine.

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.