Los Angeles County reports highest number of daily COVID deaths since last March

Los Angeles County on Thursday reported 102 new COVID-19 deaths, the highest daily number since last March.

COVID-19 hospitalizations were the highest amount seen in the county in recent weeks, with 4,814 Los Angeles County residents currently hospitalized with the virus. While the overall COVID hospitalization number remains below last winter's peak of more than 8,000, health officials stressed that the rising patient population is creating strain at hospitals that were already coping with staffing shortages. Those shortages have been exacerbated by COVID cases among healthcare workers, which have also been rising.

The county also reported 42,115 new COVID-19 cases on Thursday.

The average daily rate of people testing positive for the virus rose again on Thursday, to 17.5% up from 16.9% on Wednesday. A month ago, the testing-positivity rate was just 2%.

The percentage of COVID-19-positive hospital patients admitted to intensive care units in LA County is slowly rising, despite suggestions that the omicron variant of the virus causes less severe infections, health officials said.

RELATED: LA County reports 66 COVID deaths, highest daily toll since April

"Let's not fool ourselves by not recognizing the danger presented by the omicron variant which is capable of spreading with lightning speed and causing serious illness among our most vulnerable residents," county Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer said in a statement earlier this week. "Since the beginning of the pandemic, we have recognized that while many experience mild illness from COVID, there are others, who we love and need, that will not do well if they become infected.

"So please continue to do your part in slowing the spread of omicron to help us keep ourselves and our loved ones healthy and out of the hospital," Ferrer said. "Wear a well-fitted medical-grade mask any time indoors or at crowded outdoor locations and curtail high-risk activities during surge. And please stay away from others if you are infected or sick. Working together to reduce infections is still an essential strategy."

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Ferrer again urged people to get vaccinated, and called on those who are vaccinated to get boosters. According to the county, people who are vaccinated are six times less likely to wind up in a hospital ICU than the unvaccinated. People who are vaccinated and boosted are 25 times less likely to be admitted to an ICU.

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CNS contributed to this report.