Although the delta variant of the coronavirus continues to infect thousands of new people each day in Los Angeles County, public health officials said Thursday there’s evidence the surge is reaching a plateau.
The 3,672 new cases reported Thursday is still more than four times the size of the daily increase a month ago. But the daily average case rate is now 21 per 100,000 people, slightly down from 24 cases per 100,000 people last week, public health Director Barbara Ferrer said in a briefing.
“Although today’s rate will likely change somewhat over the coming days as additional test results are reported, this does suggest to us that our rising cases may be a leveling out,” Ferrer said.
The thresholds set by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention still place L.A. County at a high rate of transmission. That’s being fueled by the delta variant, which this week accounted for 96% of all cases sequenced in the region, Ferrer said.
While cases have increased by about 550% over the past month, hospitalizations rose at a lower rate of about 290%. And six coronavirus patients are dying each day on average after fatalities doubled in the last month.
Black residents continue to bear the brunt of the pandemic, with their case rate spiking 500% to 426 per 100,000 people from 71 cases per 100,000 people.
Ferrer said she was “deeply alarmed” to see Black residents’ case rate is more than two and a half times that of white residents, the group that currently has the next highest case rate.
For unvaccinated people, the case rate is nearly four times as higher as that among fully vaccinated residents. And of the more than 3,000 people hospitalized from May to the middle of July, only 8% were fully vaccinated, Ferrer said.
Although those with the vaccine are better protected from being severely sickened by the virus, including the delta variant, small numbers of fully vaccinated people have been infected. But in L.A. County still less than 1% of the roughly 5.5 million people fully vaccinated had tested positive as of Tuesday.
Fully vaccinated people are hospitalized at a rate of 0.009%, and only 0.0008% have died from the virus, according to the most recent data. Many who become seriously ill have other health issues.