COVID-19 hospitalizations continue dropping in Los Angeles County

The number of coronavirus patients in Los Angeles County hospitals continued to fall today declining from 1,480 on Sunday to 1,463, according to the latest state figures.

The number of those patients in intensive care also declined, from 433 to 412. Long Beach has also seen a slight decline in hospitalizations with the number of people in Long Beach area hospitals with COVID-19 dropping to 118, down from 143 in mid-August, according to the most recent city data.

The latest figures came as county health officials reported 11 additional deaths associated with the virus and 1,540 new cases of COVID-19, bringing the county totals to 1,420,560 cases and 25,456 fatalities since the pandemic began.

Monday’s case and death numbers likely reflect reporting delays over the weekend, according to the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health. Meanwhile, officials have also 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.

The county’s health department has detected 167 instances of the Mu variant, 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 the 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.

“The identification of variants like Mu, and the spreading of variants across the globe, highlights the need for LA County residents to continue to take measures to protect themselves and others,” Ferrer said.

“This is what makes getting vaccinated and layering protections so important. These are actions that break the chain of transmission and limits COVID-19 proliferation that allows for the virus to mutate into something that could be more dangerous.”

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