Los Angeles County recorded nearly 45,000 new coronavirus cases over the weekend as the omicron variant continued its relentless spread.
Even with the holiday lags in reporting, L.A. County recorded 23,553 new cases on Saturday and another 21,200 on Sunday.
County officials say over 20% of those getting tested are positive for the virus.
The county’s seven-day average daily positivity rate climbed to 21.8% Sunday, up from 14.9% one week prior.
Making matters worse, the number of people hospitalized with COVID-19 has skyrocketed to 1,628.
“During this surge, given the spread of a more infectious strain of the virus, lapses can lead to explosive transmission,” L.A. County health director Barbara Ferrer said in a statement Sunday.
This winter surge has not been as deadly as the previous one, when morgues filled up and refrigerated trucks had to be brought in. But the current surge is sending case numbers climbing fast.
County officials have been pleading with residents to stop participating in higher-risk activities, like going unmasked indoors for long periods of time or attending crowded outdoor events.
With the highly contagious omicron variant spreading, it appears that only recently-vaccinated or boosted people have significant protection from becoming infected, the Health Department said Friday.
“This leaves millions of people across LA County vulnerable to COVID infection,” health officials added.
Ferrer has warned that the coming days will be “extraordinarily challenging” for the county as the virus spreads.
“With explosive transmission likely to continue for some weeks to come, all efforts now need to focus on protecting our healthcare system from becoming overwhelmed,” the health director said. “Since most people in our hospitals with serious illness from COVID are unvaccinated, those not yet vaccinated or boosted need to please stay away from others as much as possible to avoid getting infected or infecting others.”
While authorities have assured community members that vaccines and boosters continue to offer strong protection against severe illness and death, vulnerable people need to start layering on more protection.
That means wearing high-quality masks and limiting non-essential activities.
“Although masks can be annoying and even uncomfortable for some, given that many infected individuals are spreading COVID 1 -2 days before they are symptomatic, the physical barrier tendered by a mask is known to reduce the spread of virus particles,” Ferrer explained.