Despite omicron variant, L.A. County is seeing fewer critically ill patients compared to last winter

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A sign directs people to a line for a COVID-19 test in Los Angeles on Jan. 5, 2022. (FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP via Getty Images)

A sign directs people to a line for a COVID-19 test in Los Angeles on Jan. 5, 2022. (FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP via Getty Images)

Despite an unprecedented spike in cases fueled by the Omicron variant, Los Angeles County hospitals are seeing far fewer critically ill coronavirus-positive patients than they did last winter.

Officials emphasize that the healthcare system still faces serious challenges because so many people are being infected, and it’s unclear how close the Omicron wave is to peaking. L.A. County ambulance services and hospitals also are contending with coronavirus-related staffing shortages as more of their workers become infected.

But the early data seem to reflect the experience elsewhere — that Omicron, while far more transmissible than the previously dominant Delta variant, also tends to cause less severe symptoms, especially in those who have been vaccinated and boosted.

This week marked the one-year anniversary of the most difficult period of the pandemic locally, when the number of COVID-19 patients hospitalized in L.A. County soared to its all-time high: 8,098, on Jan. 5. The number of people in intensive care peaked at 1,731 three days later, at a time when hospital morgues were overflowing.

Read the full story at LATimes.com.

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