LA County seems to have avoided post-Halloween spike in COVID cases, top health official says

LOS ANGELES (CNS) -- Los Angeles County reported 1,876 new cases of COVID-19 and 26 additional deaths associated with the virus Saturday.

The latest figures brought the county's cumulative totals to 1,518,732 cases and 26,999 fatalities since the pandemic began, according to the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health.

Meanwhile, the number of coronavirus patients in Los Angeles County hospitals dropped by another 11 people to 573, one day after tumbling below the 600 mark. Of those patients, 149 were in intensive care, up from 144 on Friday, according to state figures.

The rolling average daily rate of people testing positive for the virus was 0.9% as of Friday.

Health officials locally and nationally continue to fear a spike in cases with the upcoming winter holidays, and with colder weather leading to more indoor gatherings.

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On Thursday, county Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer noted that the county appears to have avoided any spike in cases following Halloween, attributing that success to higher numbers of vaccinated residents and other precautions.

But she said case numbers are rising in many Western states and in Europe, providing an early warning of what could lie ahead if people become lax about virus prevention.

On Friday, Ferrer urged residents to receive booster doses of vaccine.

"While the vaccines continue to provide significant protection against the virus, data now shows that the effectiveness of the vaccine declines enough over time that it is important to get an additional dose to have better protection against the virus,'' she said. "With booster doses currently available to anyone who received their second dose of Pfizer or Moderna vaccines at least six months ago, or received a Johnson & Johnson vaccine at least two months ago, it is important that healthcare workers and those they care for take advantage of easy access to these additional doses.

"With 4.8 million residents eligible for boosters, our hope is that many more individuals will be coming in for this additional dose before the Thanksgiving holiday.''

Ferrer said Thursday that current figures show unvaccinated people are nine times more likely than vaccinated people to get infected, and 67 times more likely to be hospitalized.
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