LA County reports sudden rise in weekly COVID cases, warns of winter surge

After months of decline, Los Angeles County health officials have reported a sharp increase in the average daily number of new COVID-19 infections, again raising concerns about an impending winter spike in cases.

The seven-day average daily number of infections rose by 10% over the past week, according to the county Department of Public Health, jumping from 988 new cases per day to 1,083.

"With recent unusually high levels of flu and other respiratory diseases, there are signs the county could be headed toward a COVID surge this fall and winter," county Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer said in a statement Friday. "As families are about to start their holiday travel and get- togethers, it continues to be important to follow simple steps to prevent respiratory illness and COVID-19. The first, and most important, health measure we can take is to receive the new COVID-19 bivalent booster if we are at least two moths out from our last dose."

She also urged residents to receive a flu shot and practice infection-control measures such as hand-washing, mask-wearing and staying home if sick.

According to the county, while 85% of residents aged 5 and older have received their initial COVID vaccinations, only 11% of those eligible have taken advantage of the new bivalent booster, which is designed to combat the currently circulating Omicron variants of the virus.

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Ferrer urged residents to visit to find a vaccination site.

The county on Friday reported 1,447 new COVID infections and seven new virus-related fatalities.

The new cases gave the county an overall total from throughout the pandemic of 3,493,150, while the cumulative death toll rose to 33,999.

The average daily rate of people testing positive for the virus also ticked up slightly, reaching 5% as of Friday.

According to the county, there were 453 COVID-positive patients in county hospitals as of Friday, up from 419 a day earlier with 44 in intensive care, down from 50 on Thursday.

County officials have said that about 40% of COVID-positive patients were actually admitted to hospitals due to virus-related illness, while the others were admitted for other reasons, and in many cases only learning they were infected when they were tested at the hospital.