LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- While the delta variant of COVID-19 continues to drive infection numbers, Los Angeles County has begun to a see drop in case rates, but the public health director Thursday stopped short of saying the virus surge is waning.
"We're seeing a small downturn in the seven-day average case numbers, and in the past week we've seen cases decrease by about 15%," Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer told reporters during a weekly online briefing. "However, with increased routine screening testing over the weeks ahead, I do think our case numbers will remain relatively high."
Health officials say hospitals are filling up with COVID patients who have not been vaccinated, mostly older, unvaccinated people who are 15 times more likely to end up hospitalized.
The increase in hospitalizations is slowing a bit, but not enough.
"Deaths have also risen about 6 % over the past week to a seven-day average of 18 deaths per day. This is a reminder that the virus does continues to cause serious life-threatening illness among many who are infected," Ferrer said.
"And the losses are frankly all the more tragic because of the fact nearly all of them are preventable with our extremely safe and widely available vaccines."
The county reported another 31 deaths on Thursday, raising the overall death toll from the pandemic to 25,181. Another 3,226 cases were also confirmed, for a pandemic total of 1,394,488.
One West Hollywood-based cancer doctor is making a case for mask and vaccine mandates. Dr. James Berenson says even though his cancer patients have been vaccinated, the vaccines are considerably less effective for the majority of them because of their treatments and the state of their immune systems, leaving them unprotected against COVID.
Meanwhile, the number of COVID patients landing in hospitals is surging nationwide once again. There are now more than 100,000 people hospitalized with COVID-19 - the highest number in seven months, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
When it comes to booster shots, experts recommend people wait eight months after being fully vaccinated to get one. That's when the effectiveness of the vaccines start to wane.
The CDC advisory board is slated to meet next week to discuss official booster shot recommendations.
City News Service contributed to this report.