LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- The number of COVID-19 infections and hospitalizations, while still high, is finally moving in the right direction in Los Angeles County.
Hospital intensive-care units in the Los Angeles area were filled to capacity for weeks, with health-care workers struggling to treat overwhelming numbers of COVID-19 patients.
The holiday season, with its travel and gatherings, was seen as a major contributor to the early January surge.
That surge is now leveling off, though cases, deaths and hospitalizations remain higher than they were during last summer's surge.
Health experts are expressing cautious optimism - noting that the public still has to take major precautions to prevent the spread of the virus.
"We're at a really good point right now," said Dr. Anthony Cardillo, CEO of Mend Urgent Care. "We don't want to see an inflection going in the wrong direction."
Vaccine distribution is likely also starting to help with the drop in new infections. Thousands of shots are being administered at Dodger Stadium and other locations around the county.
The vaccination process started with those facing the most potential exposure to the virus and those most at risk of contracting serious symptoms.
"We do know that now that we have the health-care providers vaccinated, the nursing home population vaccinated and thousands of people over age 65 that have started getting their vaccination sequence, we are seeing those results right now," Cardillo said. "And that is really helping to contribute to this decline."
With the easing of California's stay-at-home orders, restaurants are open again for outdoor dining, but health officials say people should only dine with family members and others who live in the same household.
And they're reminding everyone to remain vigilant.
"We have to maintain our sensibility and our common sense of what really decreases the transmission of this virus."
Health experts urge caution as LA shows modest improvement in COVID-19 cases