COVID-19 hospitalizations surge in LA County, Long Beach

With the bulk of new COVID-19 infections occurring among the unvaccinated, the pace of Los Angeles County residents being hospitalized due to the virus has begun rising at an equivalent rate of new cases, while the rate of people dying is also creeping higher, according to the most recent figures.

Between July 4 and Aug. 4, new infections rose 387%, while hospitalizations rose 366%, county Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer said Thursday.

“This alarming increase in the rise of hospitalizations serves as a stark reminder that this virus causes debilitating and dangerous illness among many who are infected,” Ferrer said.

In Long Beach, 125 people are hospitalized with COVID-19 in the five hospitals that serve the city—roughly four times higher than the number in early July. However hospitalizations are still far lower than the peak on Jan. 12, when 581 patients were being cared for in area facilities.

Ferrer said roughly 8% of people who become infected with the virus are now requiring hospitalization, the vast majority of them unvaccinated.

Meanwhile, the seven-day average number of deaths has risen to seven, compared to between four and five a month ago.  Long Beach reported four deaths from the virus this week, with a total of 960 people dying since the pandemic began.

Ferrer said there has been a 240% increase in hospitalizations over the past month among unvaccinated people age 50 or over, and a 237% rise in hospitalizations for unvaccinated younger residents.

During the month of July, vaccinated residents represented just 13% of people hospitalized with the virus.

She noted that of the 5.1 million vaccinated people in the county as of Aug. 10, 21,532 have tested positive for COVID-19, for a rate of 0.42%. A total of 549 fully vaccinated people have been hospitalized, for a rate of 0.01%, and 55 have died, for a rate of 0.0011%. The rates of vaccinated people who have been hospitalized and died were both up slightly from last week.

“These small increases provide proof that fully vaccinated people are becoming infected and that with these very high rates of community transmission, more fully vaccinated people are getting post-vaccination infections,” Ferrer said.

“However, this data should also provide significant reassurance that fully vaccinated people remain at relatively low risk of becoming infected, still below 1%, and even lower risk for having a bad outcome if they are infected.”

She added, “Trend lines like these are why we feel so certain the vaccines are doing exactly what they’re supposed to be doing here in L.A.County. Vaccinated people are exceptionally well protected from hospitalization.

On Thursday, the county reported another 3,865 cases of COVID-19, giving the county a cumulative total from throughout the pandemic of 1,339,138.   The rolling average daily rate of people testing positive for the virus was 4.5% as of Thursday, down slightly from 4.7% a week ago.

Long Beach reported 108 new cases on Thursday, and the percentage of people testing positive continues to rise. The positivity rate is now 8.4%, compared to about 2.2% in early July.

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