COVID-positive patients in Los Angeles County hospitals tops 4,000

The number of COVID-positive patients in LosAngeles County hospitals topped the 4,000 mark on Thursday as the highly contagious omicron variant continued to fuel a winter surge in infections.

According to state figures, there were 4,175 COVID-19-positive patients in county hospitals as of Thursday, with 586 of them being treated in intensive care.

That’s up from 3,912 total patients and 536 in the ICU on Wednesday. The hospital number is the highest it has been since early February 2021.

County Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer said Thursday the rise in COVID patients is pushing the county’s overall hospital patient population to levels rivaling those during last winter’s case surge.

She said the daily overall patient census—both COVID and non-COVID—is about 15,000 in the county, close to last winter’s peak of 16,500.

She also noted that rising hospitalizations are a natural consequence of rising case numbers, as are deaths, which are likely to keep increasing, even after infection figures begin declining.

“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 new COVID-related deaths, continuing a disturbing upward trend. A total of 39 deaths were reported Wednesday, the highest number since September.

The county also continued seeing disturbingly high numbers of new infections, with 45,076 new cases reported Thursday.

Long Beach on Wednesday reported 1,700 new cases and no additional deaths. The city reported 325 people in area hospitals, up from 302 on Tuesday. The number of daily cases per 100,000 residents dropped slightly for the first time in weeks, with 221.1 cases, down from 279.5 on Tuesday.

However, the city’s positive case rate, which is the number of people testing positive, was at an all-time high of 29.4%.

Ferrer again urged residents to avoid dangerous activities in the coming weeks, particularly those that are indoors and involve mingling with unvaccinated or higher-risk people.

She also stressed that while the omicron variant is easily capable of infecting vaccinated people, the shots are still proving to be effective in preventing infected people from winding up 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.”

Staff writer Kelly Puente contributed to this report.

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