COVID hospitalizations in LA County hit highest level since mid-March

LOS ANGELES COUNTY (CNS) -- Los Angeles County is reporting another 2,067 new COVID-19 cases on Tuesday, along with 15 deaths. The county's average rate of people testing positive for the virus is up to 5.7%, up from 1.2% on June 15.

COVID-19 hospitalization numbers continued an unsettling upward climb in Los Angeles County, with the latest state figures showing nearly 900 people being treated for the virus -- more than double the number from just two weeks ago.

According to state numbers released Tuesday, there were 891 people hospitalized due to COVID in the county, up from 825 the previous day. That's the highest number since March 13, and more than double the number from July 10, when the county reported 372 people hospitalized.

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There were 195 people in intensive care, up from 182 reported on Monday, according to the state. The numbers, while increasing, are still well below the more than 8,000 people hospitalized during the winter surge.

Health officials have repeatedly blamed the recent surge in cases on the highly infectious Delta variant of the coronavirus. The variant was first discovered in India and is blamed for rampant infections in that country, along with outbreaks in the United Kingdom. It is now spreading across the United States, contributing to rising case numbers and hospitalizations.

The average daily rate of people testing positive for COVID-19 in the county was 5.7% as of Tuesday, up from 4.8% reported on Sunday.

County health officials said last week that unvaccinated people are five times more likely to be infected by COVID-19 as vaccinated people. On Monday, state officials said the average daily infection rate among unvaccinated people across California was nearly seven times higher than that of vaccinated people.

Although some fully vaccinated people have still been infected with COVID-19, they are highly unlikely to become seriously ill or require hospitalization, health officials said. The county reported last week that 20% of all new infections reported in the county in June were among fully vaccinated people.

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During the month of June, 20% of all newly reported COVID infections in the county occurred among people who had been fully vaccinated.

"As we continue to experience significant community transmission fueled by the Delta variant, every effort to reduce spread is important,'' county Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer said in a statement. "This includes the additional layer of masking and testing protections the state health officer order requires at health care and high-risk congregate living facilities. Every worksite in L.A. County also has an opportunity to reduce virus transmission by adhering to the requirement that all employees and customers wear their masks indoors. We need the additional protection while more individuals get vaccinated if we want to get back to low rates of transmission.''

Los Angeles County recently mandated indoor masking for everyone, regardless of vaccination status. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has previously resisted such a mandate, but the agency on Tuesday updated its guidelines to recommend mask-wearing by everyone in indoor settings in parts of the country experiencing infection surges.

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New CDC guidelines asking people in regions with high COVID transmission rates to wear masks indoors, regardless of vaccination, would apply to nearly all of Southern California.

Most recent figures from the county show that about 71% of residents aged 16 and older have received at least one dose of COVID vaccine, and 62% are fully vaccinated. Among seniors aged 65 and older, 88% have received at least one dose, and 79% are fully vaccinated.

Young Black and Latino residents continue to have the lowest rates of vaccination in the county. County figures shows that as of last week, 46.6% of the county's Black population aged 16 and older have received at least one dose, compared to 56% of Latinos, 66.8% of white residents and 76.9% of Asians.

Black residents also had the highest rate of new infections over the last month, at 181 per 100,000 residents, according to the county. Latino/a residents have traditionally had one of the highest infection rates throughout the pandemic, but over the past month, white residents accrued a higher rate, at 83 per 100,000 residents. Latinos had an infection rate of 62 per 100,000

Black residents also had the highest rate of hospitalizations over the month, followed by Latinos and whites.

In hopes of encouraging more people to get vaccinated, the county is continuing to offer incentives. Through Thursday, anyone who gets vaccinated at sites operated by the county, the city of Los Angeles or St. John's Well Child and Family Center will be entered for a chance to win one of seven three- concert ticket packages at AEG venues, for a variety of acts.

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