The status of COVID-19 in Los Angeles County is looking good on many fronts, except for one which is troubling health officials.
Since last week, the 7-day average of new cases dropped 11%, while daily hospital admissions decreased from nearly 100 daily new patients to now 76 per day. But the one metric that remains relatively unchanged is the number of residents dying per day. Since midsummer, deaths have hovered between 11 to 14 per day.
"We have 1.3 million people that are 65 and older and one and a half million that are still unvaccinated, and we have millions of people with underlying health conditions. Our best hope for being able to really reduce the number of people that are passing away from COVID is we have to get transmission down, even lower than where it is," said L.A. County Public Health director Barbara Ferrer.
Ferrer said an important part of keeping transmission down is to get booster shots. And the latest data shows the dominant virus circulating is still the Omicron subvariant BA.5, which is included in the updated boosters. Ferrer is urging everyone to get a flu shot and a COVID booster before the holidays begin.
Health officials also updated the situation with monkeypox in L.A. County.
Since the third week in August, reported daily cases of monkeypox have dropped from 41 daily cases to now about 12 cases per day. This downward trend is consistent with what is happening globally and nationally.
L.A. County Chief Medical Officer Dr. Rita Singhal said 73% of monkeypox vaccine shots are first doses and half of people due for their second dose have received them. A new government study reveals the effectiveness of these doses.
"The CDC concluded that unvaccinated people have 14 times the risk of the monkeypox disease compared to people who were vaccinated with one dose of the JYNNEOS vaccine," said Singhal.
Dr. Singhal says the county has received its latest supply of monkeypox vaccine and encourages anyone who believes they have been exposed, or at risk of getting exposed, to get vaccinated.
The Senate this week passed a short-term spending bill, but it doesn't include the billions of dollars President Biden wanted for the response to COVID-19 and monkeypox.
The money would have been used, in part, to research and develop vaccines and medicines and prepare for future COVID variants.