There are more than 800 patients in LA County hospitals with COVID-19

The number of COVID-positive patients in Los Angeles County hospitals has surpassed 800, after falling as low as 209 in April, according to the latest state figures out Tuesday.

The state hadn't updated its hospitalization totals since Saturday, when there were 762 COVID-positive patients in county hospitals, with 76 of them being treated in intensive care. The latest numbers showed 807 COVID- positive patients, with 68 in an ICU.

Los Angeles County Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer recently reported that about 60% of COVID-positive patients were actually admitted for other reasons before testing positive for the virus. But she noted that regardless of their reason for admission, being COVID-positive means patients require increased infection-control measures at hospitals.

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On Tuesday, county health officials reported 3,671 new COVID-19 cases, giving the county a cumulative total from throughout the pandemic of 3,105,867. Another nine virus-related deaths were also reported, raising the county's overall death toll to 32,316.

County Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer told the Board of Supervisors Tuesday that while hospitals over the past week averaged 720 COVID patients per day, a 16% increase from the previous week, the rate of new admissions has actually gone down.

According to Ferrer, the county is currently averaging 6.6 new daily COVID admissions per 100,000 residents, down from 7.3 per 100,000 a week ago. It was the first decline in that rate in the past few weeks.

The rate is being closely watched, because if the county reaches 10 new daily admissions per 100,000 residents, it will move to the "high" virus activity category as defined by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. If the county stays in the "high" category for two consecutive weeks, it will reimpose a mandatory indoor mask-wearing mandate.

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Health officials had initially estimated that the county might reach the "high" category by the end of June, but with the pace of new admissions slowing, the estimate was pushed back last week to mid-July. On Tuesday, Ferrer said if the current pace holds, the county won't reach the "high" category until the end of July.

The average daily rate of people testing positive for the virus was 12.2% as of Tuesday, up from 10.9% on Monday.

In a statement Tuesday afternoon, Ferrer urged residents to exercise caution against virus spread over the Fourth of July holiday weekend, mainly by getting vaccinated.

"Residents can also reduce the chance of getting or spreading COVID- 19 by wearing a mask and doing an at-home test before indoor gatherings and events," she said. "If someone does test positive or feel sick, they should stay away from others to prevent infecting others. As we celebrate this weekend, let's make an effort to take actions that protect our friends, family members, and co-workers who may be at elevated risk."