The average daily rate of people testing positive for COVID-19 in Los Angeles County ticked upward again Tuesday, continuing a recent trend of increases, but the figure still remained low overall, at just 2.8%.
The rolling seven-day average daily positivity rate was below 1% late last month, but it has risen gradually in recent days — concurrent with the spread of the more transmissible BA.2 subvariant of COVID-19. BA.2, an offshoot of the Omicron variant that sparked a winter surge in infections, is now the dominant strain of the virus in the county, believed to represent 67% of new cases.
According to figures provided by the county Department of Public Health, the daily testing-positivity rate six days ago was 1.6%, but it has steadily ticked upward to Tuesday’s 2.8% level. It was 2.6% on Monday.
County health officials have noted a steady rise in daily virus infection numbers, also attributed to BA.2. But while cases have climbed, the number of people becoming seriously ill due to the virus has not. The number of COVID-positive patients in county hospitals has remained fairly steady in recent weeks, with the number at 226 as of Tuesday, April 19, according to state figures. That was up slightly from 221 reported on Monday. Of the COVID- positive patients, 26 are being treated in intensive care, down from 31 a day earlier. The county reported 857 new COVID infections on Tuesday, giving the county a cumulative pandemic total of 2,854,567. Another 12 deaths were also confirmed, lifting the overall death toll to 31,884.
The county on Friday issued a revised public health order, updating requirements regarding quarantine for people exposed to the virus. Under the order, people who had close contact with a virus patient but are not showing any symptoms and do not live or work in a “high-risk setting” are not required to quarantine. However, those people should wear a high-quality mask when indoors around others for at least 10 days from their last exposure. They should also be tested for COVID as soon as possible.
“After reviewing the California Department of Public Health’s updated quarantine guidance, we elected to generally align our Public Health Emergency Quarantine Order with the guidance, with a key exception,” county Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer said in a statement. “With increased circulation of the highly transmissible BA.2 subvariant, and indications that those infected with BA.2 are more likely to be asymptomatic, Public Health requires, rather than recommends, that close contacts who are exempted from quarantine mask indoors for 10 days and test as soon as possible.”