COVID spike: LA County reports 2,767 new cases, highest level since February

Thursday, July 22, 2021
Daily COVID cases up 80 percent since last week in LA County
Health officials are reporting over 2,700 new infections in L.A. County - up 80 percent from last week and the highest number since February.

DIAMOND BAR, Calif. (KABC) -- Los Angeles County is now seeing its highest daily COVID-19 case count since mid-February.

The county health department reported 2,767 new cases on Thursday. That's up 80% in just one week - and 20 times as high as the figure from a month earlier.

The new case count has now exceeded 1,000 for 14 straight days, while it was well below 200 per day in mid-June. The county has now reported more than 1.27 million cases since the start of the pandemic.

Hospitalizations also continue to rise, jumping from 585 on Tuesday to 645 on Wednesday and then to 655 on Thursday. On June 21, the county reported just 213 people hospitalized due to COVID.

Breakthrough cases

People who are fully vaccinated accounted for 20 percent of those who tested positive in June, L.A. County health officials said. But they also stressed that most of them did not have severe symptoms and did not require hospitalization.

And even though we are seeing more break through cases, L.A. officials say 99.8 percent of people who have died from the virus in the last few months are unvaccinated.

During the month of June, 20% of all newly reported COVID infections in the county occurred among people who had been fully vaccinated.

If the state was still using the color-coded tier system, Los Angeles County would have fallen back into the most-restrictive purple tier, resulting in the closures of some businesses and the sharp limiting of capacity at others.

That's why doctors across the region are continuing to urge people to get vaccinated if they haven't already.

"I'm not surprised," said Dr. Victor Waters, chief medical officer for St. Bernardine Medical Center in San Bernardino. "I'm dismayed, I'm frustrated by the lack of community commitment and drive to get these vaccines started. It seems like such a simple solution, but has turned into a big mess."

While San Bernardino County is not seeing as big a spike as Los Angeles, he says they're not far behind.

"It's not a surprise because you had 4th of July, you had the reopening of restaurants and bars, and it's not a surprise when you consider not enough of the community has been vaccinated."

He says most people who are hospitalized are unvaccinated, with very few breakthrough cases needing medical care. Despite this, he says they're still not seeing much interest in vaccine appointments.

"There's so much social media confusion that I call it analysis by paralysis. The community's getting hit in so many different directions, they don't know how to act - meaning they get paralyzed in actual action."

Many believe full FDA approval will help, but he thinks there's a lot more to the equation.

"In a fire, all hands on deck. That would be an alleviating factor. The other is to get door to door, to get out there, have far more proactive campaigns for vaccination, in particular to the communities of color."

Dr. Waters believes there needs to be a new strategy, instead of just backtracking with restrictions.

"Do something innovative, new, fresh and inspiring. I think that's what our community needs because going backwards is going to be frustrating and may even cause more resistance."