Hospitalizations due to COVID-19 dropped for a ninth straight day Wednesday in Los Angeles County, while the number of virus outbreaks in non-school settings also dipped from last week, but another 49 COVID deaths were reported Wednesday.
The new fatalities lifted the county’s overall death toll from the pandemic to 25,514. The county reported another 2,006 COVID infections, raising the overall pandemic total to 1,423,620. According to state figures, there were 1,385 COVID-positive patients in Los Angeles County hospitals as of Wednesday, down from 1,433 on Tuesday. There were 417 people in intensive care, up from 415 a day earlier. The rolling average daily rate of people testing positive for the virus was 3.3% as of Wednesday, up from 2.7% Tuesday.
The county Department of Public Health reported that it is investigating 258 ongoing COVID outbreaks in non-school settings, the majority of them in residential settings. The number of outbreaks is down from 300 outbreaks being investigated a week ago.
According to the county, business inspections carried out in late August and early September found generally good compliance with health requirements, although it noted “some room for improvement, particularly with employee and customer masking at fitness centers, bars, warehouses and garment manufacturing plants.”
“We are grateful to all the businesses that are in compliance with safety measures and masking requirements, as these protections are critical to prevent virus transmission and COVID-19 outbreaks at businesses and in the community,” county Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer said in a statement. “While we are seeing decreases in new cases and hospitalizations, COVID-19 deaths have not declined and transmission remains high. Without a significant increase in the numbers of eligible residents vaccinated, there is a risk of case increases this fall and winter as COVID-19 is easily spread among those unvaccinated.”
According to county figures, roughly 56% of the county’s 10.3 million residents — including those who are ineligible because they are under 12 years old — are fully vaccinated against COVID-19.
Last week, health officials confirmed the presence of what’s known as the Mu variant of the virus, which is described as highly contagious and potentially able to evade vaccines. According to the health department, 167 instances of the Mu variant have been detected in the county, all between June 19 and Aug. 21, with most of them found in July.
The Mu variant — officially labeled a “variant of interest” by the World Health Organization — was first discovered in Colombia in January, and has since been detected in 39 countries.
Some initial reviews of the variant have indicated it has the potential to evade currently available vaccines. But in a statement Friday, county health officials said “more studies are needed to determine whether Mu variant is more contagious, more deadly or more resistant to vaccine and treatments than other COVID-19 strains.”
The Delta variant remains the dominant COVID-19 strain circulating in the county, with Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer saying Thursday it represents nearly all of the cases that undergo the sequencing needed to identify specific viral mutations. Delta is labeled a “variant of concern” by the WHO.