After a month of steady increases, the number of COVID-19-positive patients in Los Angeles County hospitals fell slightly Friday, but the number of people being treated in intensive care rose again and another 65 virus-related deaths were reported.
According to state figures, there were 4,792 COVID-positive patients in county hospitals as of Friday, down from 4,814 on Thursday. The number of those patients in the ICU rose to 740, up from 723 a day earlier. The 65 deaths reported Friday were down sharply from the 102 announced on Thursday, but still significantly higher as the daily totals being reported in recent weeks. The deaths are considered lagging indicators, meaning they generally occur in the weeks following a spike in hospitalizations.
The daily numbers can also include deaths that occurred days or even weeks earlier but were only recently tabulated or confirmed as COVID-related. With the 65 new fatalities reported Friday, the county’s overall virus death toll during the pandemic rose to 28,346. Another 43,091 new COVID cases were reported Friday, giving the county a pandemic total of 2,428,744. The rolling daily average rate of people testing positive for the virus held generally steady at 17.8%.
County health officials again called on more people to get vaccinated, saying unvaccinated people are twice as likely to contract the virus as fully vaccinated people, and four times more likely than people who are fully vaccinated and received a booster shot. Vaccinated people are 20 times more likely to be hospitalized than people who are vaccinated and boosted, according to the county.
“Since the beginning of the pandemic, we have recognized that while many experience mild illness from COVID, there are others that will not do well if they become infected,” county Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer said in a statement. “Preliminary estimates from scientists at USC estimated that if everyone eligible was vaccinated, over the last six weeks there would have been 85% fewer cases with nearly 604,000 cases of COVID prevented, and 87% fewer hospitalizations with approximately 9,300 hospitalizations prevented.
“These estimates align with much of the data we share weekly about the disastrous consequences facing many infected, unvaccinated individuals,” Ferrer said. “Large scale vaccine adoption could change the pandemic’s trajectory with significant case and hospitalization reductions.”
According to the county, 81% of eligible county residents aged 5 and above have received at least one dose of vaccine, and 72% are fully vaccinated. Only 31% are fully vaccinated with a booster shot. Of the county’s overall 10.3 million population, 76% have received one dose, 68% are fully vaccinated, and 29% are vaccinated and boosted.
Ferrer noted Thursday that roughly half of the COVID-positive patients in county hospitals were actually admitted for reasons other than COVID, and only discovered they were infected when they were hospitalized. But Ferrer said even if a patient was admitted for a reason other than COVID, a virus- positive patient still requires more “resource-intensive precautions” that result in strain on short-staffed hospitals.