Coronavirus cases in Los Angeles County on Monday increased tenfold from exactly one month ago, highlighting the stark reality of a winter surge largely driven by the highly contagious omicron variant.
A total of 31,576 new COVID-19 cases were documented on Monday — up ten times the number of cases reported on Dec. 17, 2021, when there were 3,360 new cases reported, the L.A. County Public Health Department said in a news release.
Just one week ago, the county surpassed 2 million total COVID-19 cases, with the figure reaching 2,289,045 cases as of Monday.
The surge has also been contributing to an increasing daily test positivity rate for several weeks now amid another winter surge. The daily COVID-19 positivity rate is 16.5% Monday, more than 8 times the 2% daily positivity rate on Dec. 17.
Additionally, the number of people currently hospitalized with the virus went up nearly six times the number from one month ago — from 772 people hospitalized to 4,564 people on Monday.
“The good news is that while hospitalizations continue to climb, Public Health data shows that many positive cases are admitted for reasons other than COVID but, are identified with COVID when tested for COVID upon hospital admission,” the health department said last week.
As of Friday, more than 80% of all adult ICU beds in the county were occupied.
The public health department also noted that while the number of children hospitalized with the virus remains low, the number of them admitted to L.A. County hospitals “significantly increased” over the past month, with the largest increase among children younger than 5 years old.
The increase mirrors trends seen nationwide for the age group — the only one not yet eligible for the vaccine.
The county also saw its highest coronavirus death rate in nearly 10 months over this past week, with an average of 40 COVID-19 deaths a day.
“As deaths often lag behind surges in cases and hospitalizations, sadly, the increase in deaths does not come as a surprise and tragically, we are prepared for even higher number of deaths in the coming weeks,” Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer said in a statement Saturday. “With unvaccinated individuals 22 times more likely to die from COVID-19 compared to those fully vaccinated, residents should not delay getting vaccinated and boosted as these measures are saving lives.”
There were 27 new COVID-19 deaths reported Monday.
As Monday marks Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Ferrer pointed out that from the onset of the pandemic, communities of color have experienced the greatest devastation from COVID-19 in L.A. County and throughout the nation.
“On this national holiday where we celebrate the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, we remember his deep commitment to health equity,” Ferrer said in a statement. “As Reverend King memorably said, ‘Of all the forms of inequality, injustice in health is the most shocking and the most inhuman because it often results in physical death.’”
“As we continue to implement strategies – enforcing worker protections through our Health Officer Orders, providing resources needed by many to survive the impact of the pandemic, funding community-based organizations in hard hit areas to serve as trusted public health messengers, and increasing vaccination access in under-sourced neighborhoods – we also need to come together to address the impact that racism, historical disinvestment, and social marginalization have on COVID-19 outcomes,” she continued. “While these conditions predate the pandemic, without deliberate collective actions to address the root causes of health inequities, we are unlikely to close the gaps we have documented for 2 long years.”