Number of COVID-19 patients in LA County hospitals inches upward; 27 more deaths reported

The number of COVID-19-positive patients in Los Angeles County hospitals inched upward again Monday, reaching a level nearly six times higher than the number just one month ago.

Another 27 virus-related deaths were also reported Monday, lifting the county's overall death toll from throughout the pandemic to 28,086. The county reported nearly 120 deaths over the weekend.

The county Department of Public Health confirmed another 31,576 new COVID infections, a number that is likely low due to delays in weekend reporting by testing labs. To date, the county has confirmed 2,289,045 cases since the pandemic began.

According to state figures, there were 4,564 COVID-positive patients in county hospitals as of Monday, up slightly from 4,507 on Sunday. The number of those patients in intensive care was 621, a slight reduction from 622 a day earlier.

COVID-19 is still spreading and quickly and hospitals are under strain as omicron hits them with more cases and fewer staff.

"The patients just kept coming. It it so disheartening to have been through surge after surge of these patients," said Dr. Megan Ranney from the Brown University School of Public Health.

The demand for testing was visible in Malibu, where a mobile COVID lab was providing rapid testing Monday.

Instead of floats and bands during what would've been the largest Martin Luther King Jr. Parade in the country, there was a long line of cars as people waiting to get tested.

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A free in-car COVID-19 rapid-testing event kicked off in Los Angeles on Martin Luther King Jr. Day instead of a parade after a surge of coronavirus cases canceled the planned event.

Officials say this is a way to get the community to take free COVID tests.

"What we would've spent on the parade (we shifted) a portion to finding the best test we could get. We picked this one because it's the best. It's quick, you get the answer in five minutes," said Adrian Dove, chairman of the Kingdom Day Parade.

Meanwhile, a new mask requirement took effect Monday in L.A. County. Employers must now provide medical grade surgical masks, N-95 or KN-95 masks to indoor workers who are in close contact with others.

There are hopeful signs the omicron surge is peaking in the northeast which was hit the hardest early on.

Cases are on the decline in New York. The single day infection total is down from 90,000 in early January to less than 48,000 last week. Unfortunately other areas of the country are still seeing high numbers.

"The challenge is that the entire country is not moving at the same pace. The omicron wave started later in other parts of the country. We shouldn't expect a national peak in the coming days. The next few weeks will be tough," said U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy.

There has been a huge issue with access to testing. Test kits have been hard to find and prices are up. Insurance providers will now cover the cost of over-the-counter tests. You can get up to eight test a month per person and up to $12 per test.

And starting Wednesday you can request free rapid antigen tests online.

City News Service contributed to this report.
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