One day after the county reported a slow-down in the pace of COVID-positive patients being admitted to local hospitals, the number of those patients soared over the 700 mark Friday, reaching its highest point in nearly four months.
According to state figures, there were 741 COVID-19-positive patients in county hospitals as of Friday, a 53-patient jump from 688 on Thursday. The number of those patients being treated in intensive care was 67, down slightly from 69 a day earlier.
The 741 patients is the highest number since early March.
The increase was notable, coming one day after the county reported that a weeks-long rise in COVID admissions appeared to be slowing, and could be showing signs of leveling off. Dr. Paul Simon, chief science officer at the county Department of Public Health, said the seven-day average of new hospital admissions of people with the virus was 84 per day on Thursday, Simon said, only a small bump from 83 the previous week.
The rate of hospital admissions for the past week was 7.3 per 100,000 residents. That’s the same rate as the previous week, ending a steady trend of increases that has raised the possibility of a new universal indoor mask mandate in the county.
Under metrics set by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the county would move from the “medium” category of virus activity to the “high” level if the rate of new hospital admissions reaches 10 per 100,000 residents. If the county reaches the high level and stays there for two weeks, a new indoor mask mandate will be imposed.
County health officials previously projected that at the previous rate of increase, the county would reach the “high” category by the end of June, or early July. But with the pace of hospital admissions appearing to slow, Simon said the current projection is that the county won’t reach the “high” category until at least mid-July.
Simon also said the average rate of new daily COVID cases was about 4,400 per day over the last seven days. But the county on Friday reported 6,129 new infections.
The new cases gave the county a cumulative total from throughout the pandemic of 3,088,482. Another eight deaths were also reported Friday, raising the county’s virus-related death toll to 32,291.
The average daily rate of people testing positive for the virus was 11.3%, down slightly from 11.6% on Thursday.
Health officials have noted that the actual number of COVID cases in the county is likely much higher than the number being reported each day, thanks to the prevalence of take-home tests, the results of which are not always reported to the Department of Public Health.
“With highly infectious variants and sub-lineages in L.A. County, it remains important to use all of our safety measures that work to reduce COVID- 19 risk, including vaccinations, masking, moving activities outdoors, maximizing ventilation when indoors, and testing and staying home when sick,” county Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer said in a statement Friday. “Every time you make the decision to wear a mask indoors, you are protecting yourself and all those around you, including essential workers and those most vulnerable. With summer holidays, camp and trips being planned, this is also an important time to make sure all members of your household are fully vaccinated and boosted.”