LA County COVID infections take off, but hospitalizations stay low

Officials say since the end of March, there's been over a 200% increase in the seven-day average of cases.
LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- Los Angeles County Director of Public Health says the number of new COVID-19 infections is growing quickly, but it has not translated into a higher number of hospitalizations.

Dr. Barbara Ferrer, addressing the L.A. County Board of Supervisors Tuesday, said experts suspect about half of the new cases appearing locally involve the especially infectious BA.2.12.1, a new subvariant of the BA.2 omicron variant.

"Since the end of March, there's been over a 200% increase in the seven-day average of cases," Ferrer told the supervisors.

But the new cases, she said, have not led to a surge in hospital admissions, something she attributes to the past two years of preventative measures, like vaccinations.

"There always is a small lag between cases and hospitalizations and deaths," said Ferrer. "But more importantly, we think this reflects the protective effects of vaccinations, boosters and now therapeutics."

Parents with kids under five years old who are waiting for a vaccination option are getting a dose of optimism.

Pfizer executives said they're less than a month away from asking federal regulators to approve their three-dose vaccine for the youngest children who are still not eligible for COVID shots.

The company said it expects to submit its data by the end of May or early-June, with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Food and Drug Administration reviews to quickly follow.

Plus, it appears yearly COVID-boosters may become a regular part of life.

In a report recently published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, the FDA said the U.S. might need to update its COVID vaccines every year and called the global presence of the virus "the new normal."

The researchers said updated, yearly COVID boosters could save lives and minimize societal disruptions.

Meanwhile, CDC Director Rochelle Walensky said a recent review of the latest variants' spread shows people should still be wearing masks when on planes, trains, buses or other forms of public transportation.

But because of a Florida judge's ruling last month, the CDC cannot require people to mask up in those situations.

The Department of Justice is appealing that judge's decision.

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