The number of people in Los Angeles County hospitalized for COVID-19 treatment jumped to more than 4,000 on Thursday, January 13, as the winter surge fueled by the highly transmissible variant of omicron raged relentlessly.
County public health officials reported 40,452 new positive COVID tests and 39 other coronavirus-related deaths on Wednesday in their latest data, as the Omicron variant continues to spread across the county. The 39 deaths are the highest number of new deaths since September 22.
Of the 36 deaths for which the county had complete data, 78% were in people 65 and older. All of the deaths occurred in January, likely reflecting an increase in deaths associated with the higher number of cases and hospitalizations in December.
There were 4,175 people with the coronavirus in county hospitals, according to the latest state figures released Thursday morning, up from 3,912 the day before. Perhaps more alarming: the advance of intensive care patients, which jumped from 536 Wednesday to 586, a jump of nearly 10% in a single day. That’s a peak of over 250 people over the past nine days, an increase of over 40%.
However, Dr Christina Ghaly, director of county health services, said that despite the increase in the number of patients, the outbreak caused by omicron is playing out differently in hospitals compared to previous outbreaks. She said that last fall about a third of COVID patients ended up in intensive care, but that number is only around 10% to 15% this time around, at least in the four hospitals operated by county, which likely reflects conditions in other centers.
She also said about 40% of COVID-positive patients in county hospitals were admitted specifically because of the virus, while the rest only learned they were infected on admission for something else. . During the latest wave, 80% to 90% of COVID patients were admitted due to illness linked to the virus.
Ghaly said current staff shortages are creating more critical conditions in hospitals. She highlighted the large number of healthcare workers who have retired or moved to non-frontline positions. She also noted that the surge in COVID infections has also had an impact on healthcare workers, leaving many unavailable for work due to illness or exposure.
The situation has also resulted in longer response times for ambulances, in part due to the large number of workers at private ambulance companies who failed to meet COVID vaccination requirements, leaving them unable to work. combined with a large number of sick callers.
Although the evidence indicates that the omicron strain is not as virulent as its predecessors, officials nonetheless fear that this wave of new cases could overwhelm healthcare providers.
The record number of new cases in recent days appears in part due to a significant increase in testing. Governor Gavin Newsom visited a test site in southern Los Angeles County on Wednesday to highlight his COVID-19 emergency response program. Newsom on Saturday proposed $ 2.7 billion in new COVID spending as part of its next budget proposal, including a request for $ 1.4 billion emergency funds to boost testing capacity, accelerate efforts immunization and booster programs, supporting frontline workers, strengthening the health care system and “fighting misinformation.” “
County Health Director Dr Barbara Ferrer urged residents to avoid dangerous activities over the next few weeks, especially those indoors and involve mingling with unvaccinated or at-risk people higher.
She also pointed out that although the omicron variant is easily capable of infecting those who have been vaccinated, the injections are still found to be effective in preventing those infected from ending up in hospital.
She said unvaccinated people are nine times more likely to be hospitalized than fully vaccinated people and 38 times more likely to be hospitalized than fully vaccinated and boosted people.
As more students and staff have returned to in-person learning this week amid the surge in cases, routine testing at schools in many districts has identified thousands of students and of staff infected with COVID-19.
For the week of Jan. 3-9, 547,466 tests were administered in school districts across the county, with most of the testing being done for students and LAUSD staff. Last week, 80,424 positive cases were identified, including 68,560 cases among LAUSD staff and students, resulting in a test positivity rate of 14.6%.
A total of three outbreaks among youth sports teams were also identified last week, and 26 more school-related outbreaks are still being watched.
Meanwhile, other events fell victim to the outbreak. Pasadena announced the cancellation of its Black History Parade on Wednesday, and the cities of Long Beach and Pasadena have pushed back the dates for their annual homeless population count.