Los Angeles, California – The number of COVID-positive patients admitted to Los Angeles County hospitals surpassed the 4,000 mark on Thursday, as the highly infectious omicron variant fueled a winter infection surge.
County hospitals had 4,175 COVID-19-positive patients as of Thursday. Of those, 586 were in intensive care, according to state data.
On Wednesday, there were 3,912 total patients and 536 in the intensive care unit. Hospital admissions have reached their highest level since early February 2021.
In a statement released Thursday, County Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer said the increase in COVID patients is driving the county’s total hospital patient population to levels comparable to those seen during the previous winter’s case spike.
She said that the daily total patient census in the county, including both COVID and non-COVID patients, is about 15,000, which is close to the high of 16,500 seen last winter.
She also pointed out that increased hospitalizations and fatalities are an inevitable result of rising case numbers, and that these numbers are expected to continue to rise even after infection rates begin to decline significantly.
“And while it’s reassuring that much of the scientific evidence to date suggests that omicron causes milder illness for many people, particularly those vaccinated and boosted, we still have no idea what percent of those recently infected with omicron will experience long COVID, or the likelihood of children infected with Omicron developing MIS-C after their initial infection,” Ferrer said, referring to the inflammatory syndrome that occurs in some children.
On Thursday, the county reported 45 additional COVID-related fatalities, continuing an alarming rising trend that began last year. On Wednesday, a total of 39 fatalities were recorded, the highest number reported since September.
The county has also continued to witness alarmingly high numbers of new infections, with 45,076 new cases being recorded on Thursday alone in the county.
On Wednesday, the city of Long Beach reported 1,700 new cases but no more fatalities. The city recorded 325 people in nearby hospitals, an increase over the previous day’s figure of 302. For the first time in weeks, the number of daily cases per 100,000 people decreased slightly, with 221.1 instances reported on Wednesday, down from 279.5 on Tuesday.
However, the positive case rate in the city, which is the percentage of people who tested positive, reached an all-time high of 29.4 percent, marking the highest rate in the city’s history.
Health officials are appealing to residents to avoid participating in potentially dangerous activities in the coming weeks, especially those that take place indoors and include contact with unvaccinated or higher-risk individuals. They are also urging unvaccinated people to get the shot to lower their chances of being hospitalized.
“While we have tools that help, there is growing frustration over the seemingly endless changes in guidance, the short supply of tests and the reality that those vaccinated and boosted may also become infected,” Ferrer said. “Since this is an accurate assessment of our current reality, I think we’ll need to remind ourselves that we’ve survived similar challenges multiple times over the past two years.”