The number of people hospitalized with a coronavirus infection in Los Angeles County increased by 21 people to 762, according to the latest state data.
Of those patients, 76 were being treated in intensive care, up to nine from Friday.
Some COVID-positive patients likely entered the hospital for other reasons before testing positive for the virus, but health officials don’t provide exact breakdowns.
The latest numbers come two days after Dr. Paul Simon, chief science officer at the county Department of Public Health, said the rate of increase in COVID-positive patients has begun to diminish, pushing back the estimate of when an indoor mask-wearing mandate might be re-imposed.
The current seven-day average of new hospital admissions of people with the virus was 84 per day, Simon said Thursday, 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 was 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 now slowing, Simon said the current projection is that the county won’t reach the “high” category until at least mid-July.
He noted that the county could avoid reaching that level at all if transmission of the virus begins to slow, leading to an anticipated drop in hospitalizations.
While virus transmission is still considered high across the county, the average number of local new infections has begun to level off, and even decline. Simon said the current rate of new daily cases is about 4,400 per day, a 6% drop from the previous week.
The case numbers, however, are likely artificially low since many people are relying on take-home COVID tests, the results of which are not always reported to the county and therefore not included in the official total.
Simon thanked residents who have continued to take infection-control measures — such as continuing to wear masks even without a mandate. He said such personal decisions are having an effect on the overall infection rate.
“I know the public is getting very fatigued with our repeated messaging, but it is so important — to the greatest degree possible, be strategic,” he said. “… In certain environments when you know there’s a greater risk of transmission of the virus, wear that mask.”
The county reported another 6,129 COVID infections on Friday, giving the county a cumulative total from throughout the pandemic of 3,088,482. Another eight virus-related deaths were reported, raising the local death toll to 32,291.
The test positivity rate was 11.3%. The rate has been increasing, most likely due to the drastic reduction in the overall level of testing being done each day since schools are out of session for the summer.
The county health department does not report COVID data on weekends.