Los Angeles County reported another 55 COVID-19 deaths Wednesday, while the number of hospital patients with the virus fell below 700.
The 55 new deaths gave the county an overall pandemic death toll of 31,138.
Another 1,157 cases of COVID were also confirmed Wednesday, lifting the cumulative total from throughout the pandemic to 2,807,057. The average daily rate of people testing positive for the virus was 0.9% as of Wednesday.
According to state figures, there were 666 COVID-positive patients in county hospitals as of Wednesday, down from 706 on Tuesday. The number of those patients being treated in intensive care units was 122, down from 133 a day earlier.
County health officials said they were working to increase the number of providers who can offer residents access to anti-COVID therapeutics, while also striving to raise awareness about their availability.
According to the Department of Public Health, the oral medications are Paxlovid and Molnupiravir are prescription drugs that must be taken within five days of COVID symptoms developing. Paxlovid is available for anyone age 12 and older who weighs more than 88 pounds. Molnupiravir is available for anyone 18 and over.
A third medication, Evulsheld, is given through an injection and is available for people 12 and over who have not been exposed to the virus and are unable to get a COVID vaccine for medical reasons.
“Given that the new therapeutics can save the lives of residents who are at elevated risk, Public Health is working closely with partners across the county to make sure they are accessible to those who are most vulnerable to severe illness from a COVID infection,” county Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer said in a statement. “Having sites where residents can both get tested and receive appropriate medications if they are positive is essential and we look forward to working with federal and pharmacy partners to expand availability of `Test to Treat’ programs, especially in our under-resourced communities.”