Serving Larchmont Village, Hancock Park, and the Greater Wilshire neighborhoods of Los Angeles since 2011.

COVID-19 Update: “Considerable Increase in New Cases” Continues

LA County reported 6, 245 new cases of COVID-19 yesterday, pushing the weekly average to more than 4,200 cases per day (twice the number just month ago).


No, we’re not going to see any COVID-19 mask mandates in the immediate future…but, yes, if the “considerable increase in new cases” continues at current rates, said LA County Director of Public Health Barbara Ferrer in her weekly address yesterday, we could get to that point “in just a few weeks.”

Ferrer reported 6,245 new cases of COVID-19 in LA County yesterday, which pushed the weekly average over 4,200 cases per day, which is more than double the number just a month ago. And it’s also definitely an undercount, Ferrer said, when you factor in positive at-home tests the County never hears about.  At the same time, however, Ferrer reported only a “modest” increase in hospitalizations this week, while COVID-19 deaths per day remained relatively stable.



As has been true throughout the pandemic, Ferrer reported yesterday that older adults, especially those over the age of 80, continue to be the most vulnerable to infections, hospitalization and death, and that most COVID-19-related hospitalizations are in older adults.



But Ferrer said that vaccines continue to be the best protection for all age groups, with hospitalizations of our oldest residents about four times lower for those who have been vaccinated vs. those who haven’t, and deaths nine times lower for those in the 80+ age group who have been vaccinated.  And the differences are similar for all age groups…



…and all ethnic groups.



According to Ferrer, this week’s case rate of 280 cases per 100,000 individuals, with an average of 4.5 new hospitalizations per day per 100,000 people continues to place us firmly in the “Medium” Community Level, as defined by the CDC.  That rate would have to rise to more than 10 new hospitalizations per day per 100,000 people to reach the “High” Community level – which would once again trigger new indoor mask mandates.  But while Ferrer said we are still “well below” that level, she also said that if we don’t manage to cut our current high transmission rates, we could reach the high community level – at which our health care system is being stressed, and at which indoor mask mandates would return – “in just a few weeks.”



In addition, Ferrer noted that all eight “early alert signals” LA County is tracking are now at either medium or high levels of concern.  The two of the eight that are now at “high” levels are the percentage of specimens sequenced identified as a variant or subvariant of concern…and the number of new outbreaks in skilled nursing facilities, which was 21 this week.



And cases in schools rose, too, this week, especially at elementary schools, where end-of-year activities were associated with clusters of cases at several schools.



Given these increases, Ferrer renewed her strong recommendation that students and staff at county schools continue to wear masks indoors at schools…and she praised UCLA’s announcement this week to restore its indoor mask mandate. “I applaud UCLA,” she said, saying the return to mandated indoor masking is “in line with our very strong recommendation that everyone keep their mask on indoors.”  She said no one wants to see rising case numbers continue, our health care system stressed out, or an increase in the number of people who become seriously ill from COVID-19.  “So we’re grateful for the support from UCLA,” she said. “We think it will make a difference.”

Meanwhile, Ferrer reported that 100% of COVID-19 cases in Los Angeles are still caused by the Omicron variant or one of its subvariants, with BA2.12.1 now accounting for 36.4% of all cases locally (and 58% nationally), and BA2.3 cases dropping a bit this week to 7.6% of LA County cases.



Wastewater sampling in LA County sanitation districts also shows a “dramatic increase” since May 9, said Ferrer, and is now well above twice the average from 14 days ago, which is the County’s level for concern…



…though wastewater from LA City Sanitation has not yet reached that 2x-the-14-days-ago average, and actually shows a bit of a drop in the last few days.



Given the continuing rise in cases, Ferrer reminded residents that we do have four powerful tools to help limit the spread of COVID-19 and which can help keep us out of “high” tiers for community spread and stress on our health care system.  These include vaccinations, which have so far remained highly effective at preventing hospitalizations and deaths from all the COVID-19 variants we’ve seen so far…wearing masks indoors in public places and schools, especially if you are at high risk for serious illness or if you live with someone who’s at high risk…testing to know if you’re infected and need to isolate…and therapeutics that can help fight illness and keep it from becoming severe once you’re infected.



Also, heading into Memorial Day weekend, Ferrer had some additional recommendations for celebrating safely:



“There are no hard and fast rules here that apply to everyone,” Ferrer said, “but being cautious is definitely the name of the game for anybody that’s at elevated risk.”

And finally, although “the risk to LA County residents is very low” and “we have no suspected cases in LA County,” Ferrer also provided a short update on the monkeypox outbreak.  So far, Ferrer said, there have been about 200 cases of monkeypox in other countries, but only nine cases in the U.S. so far, and just one in California, though local officials are working with state and national partners to monitor the situation.  Also, Ferrer noted that monkeypox infections are usually minor, though they can lead to severe illness in some cases.  Even so, however, Ferrer also explained that unlike COVID-19, which is highly transmissible via even small amounts of respiratory droplets, monkeypox is much more difficult to transmit, and generally requires direct contact (including sexual contact) with the bodily fluids of someone who’s infected, or much more prolonged contact with their respiratory droplets.  But if anyone does experience symptoms, which usually include flu-like symptoms and a rash with sores, Ferrer urged them to contact their health care provider.



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Elizabeth Fuller
Elizabeth Fuller
Elizabeth Fuller was born and raised in Minneapolis, MN but has lived in LA since 1991 - with deep roots in both the Sycamore Square and West Adams Heights-Sugar Hill neighborhoods. She spent 10 years with the Greater Wilshire Neighborhood Council, volunteers at Wilshire Crest Elementary School, and has been writing for the Buzz since 2015.

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