LA County reports sharp drop in new COVID-19 hospitalizations

Los Angeles County reported 1,869 new cases of COVID-19 and 29 additional deaths on Monday.

Health officials said the relatively low number of cases and deaths may reflect reporting delays over the holiday weekend.   

The number of coronavirus patients in county hospitals continues to fall, dropping from 3,270 Sunday to 3,092, with 30% of those people in intensive care.

The county's hospitalization rate has dropped sharply since peaking at more than 8,000 in early January and has declined 60% since Jan.15, according to the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health.   

The countywide unadjusted adult ICU bed occupancy was 86%. The seven-day average for the county's daily test positivity rate, which has also been steadily declining, dropped from 5.3% Sunday to 5.2%, down 64% in one month.

Meanwhile, with vaccine supplies still limited, the city and county of Los Angeles will reserve the majority of its available vaccinations this week to provide second doses for those ready to receive them, with the county-operated large-scale sites exclusively administering second doses, health officials announced.   

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"The majority of appointments at our vaccinations sites will continue to be for second doses," said Dr. Paul Simon, chief science officer for the county, said Friday. "We will only be providing second doses at our Mega-POD (point of dispending) sites."   

The county-operated Mega-PODs are at the Pomona Fairplex, Magic Mountain, the Forum, the county Office of Education in Downey and Cal State Northridge.  

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Simon said first doses will be available at other locations, primarily at health centers, pharmacies "and other providers that serve the areas hardest hit by the COVID-19 pandemic."   

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti said Monday that the city would be following a similar policy at its large-scale sites, including Dodger Stadium, which closed last week due to the shortage but is scheduled to reopen Tuesday.   

The county has been receiving roughly 200,000 doses each week, although the actual amount has varied wildly week-to-week, making advance planning for reservations difficult.   

The city is expected to receive just 54,000 doses of Moderna and 4,000 doses of Pfizer COVID-19 vaccines this week. Garcetti said local leaders continue to advocate for a larger supply, and first-dose appointments would become available if the city receives more doses.   

"We share their frustration," Simon said. "We're all frustrated. We know that we could do much more if we had more doses. For example, we're now receiving about 200,000 doses each week, and as we've surveyed all of our providers, we're confident that we could administer up to 600,000 doses a week. So we have much, much greater capacity if we can get the available vaccine."   

Two new sites in LA County will be offering first-dose appointments this week. The first site opened Monday at Dignity Health Sports Park in Carson, where appointments are available from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. this week.

That site is a joint effort by Dignity Health, the LA Galaxy and Dignity Health Sports Park.   

Another site will open Tuesday at Cal State Los Angeles, a joint effort by the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the state of California. 

Appointments for both sites can be made at

Simon and County Health Officer Dr. Muntu Davis both said increasing supplies will be critical as more people become eligible for the shots --noting that the state plans to expand eligibility next month to all people ages 16 or over who have underlying medical conditions or disabilities that make them highly susceptible to death or severe illness from COVID-19.   

This week's second dose appointments were automatically scheduled for Angelenos who received their first dose from January 18-23 at Hansen Dam, SanFernando Park, Crenshaw Christian Center, Lincoln Park and Dodger Stadium.

Patients who qualify should have received a text message and/or an email with their second appointment details.   

Davis recognized the generally improving downward trends in daily cases, but stressed that while the numbers are getting better, they're still high, and "the risk of running into someone with COVID-19 who may not know itis still very high."   

Simon said that most recent figures show 1,345,949 doses have been administered in the county, with 1,047,074 of the first doses. A total of 13.5% of the county's population aged 16 and over have received at least one dose and 3.8% of that population are fully vaccinated.

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