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Los Angeles County reported 102 new COVID-19 deaths Thursday, marking its highest number of deaths from the virus in a single day since March 10, 2021.

The number of deaths doubled in just one week, L.A. County Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer said in a briefing Thursday, explaining that the number of deaths typically increases a few weeks after a surge in cases.

Of the deaths reported Thursday, 90% were among residents who became ill with COVID-19 after Dec. 24, indicating the high likelihood that they were infected with the omicron variant, the Public Health Department said.

“As deaths often lag behind surges in cases and hospitalizations, we may see an even higher number of deaths in the coming weeks,” the department explained.

As of Thursday, the average daily new case rate in the county stood at about 33,000 cases a day.

The number of people hospitalized with the virus also remains elevated, with 4,814 people currently hospitalized — the highest number of daily COVID hospitalizations since the 2020 winter surge.

About 50% of those currently hospitalized with COVID-19 are in the hospital for a non-COVID-related illness or seeking a non-COVID-related treatment.

“Regardless of their reason for hospitalization, all COVID-positive patients require resource intensive precautions that place additional strain on our health care system, particularly in the setting of the current staff shortages,” Ferrer said.

COVID patients account for about 30% of those in the county’s intensive care units, which is also an increase from last week when it was about 25%.

“Between the increases in deaths and hospitalizations, there should be no place for complacency,” Ferrer said. “While omicron is not causing the same proportion of severe illnesses as last winter, … it is substantially increasing cases of severe illness, and for a growing number of L.A. County individuals, omicron has now become a critical matter of life and death.”

Test positivity decreased slightly this past week to approximately 17%, meaning that nearly one in six people getting tested is infected with coronavirus. Just one month ago, the daily positivity rate was 2%.

The seven-day average daily case rate also dropped a bit, to about 350 new cases per 100,000 residents.

“While these small decreases may indicate that we’re no longer seeing exponential growth in transmission, we’re still experiencing the highest rate of spread for this entire pandemic,” the health director said.

Throughout the pandemic, Latino and Black residents have experienced the worst health outcomes from COVID-19, with the gaps becoming even wider during surges, according to health officials.

Currently, Latino residents have the highest case rate with 3,600 cases per 100,000 people, a 1,900% increase compared to one month prior. Black residents have the second highest current case rate with nearly 2,700 cases per 100,000, with a 1,400% increase in just one month.

Asian residents have seen the steepest percent increase of 2,400%, or 2,300 cases per 100,000, while white residents have seen an 1,100% increase over the past month at 2,100 cases per 100,000. 

“The higher rates of cases, hospitalizations, and deaths among Black and Latinx residents is a tragedy that reflects both long standing inequities to the resources that promote good health and policies and practices that marginalize the concerns of people of color,” Ferrer said. “The resulting distressing lack of confidence in the COVID vaccines among some residents in the hardest communities, contributes to the widening gaps in health outcomes we are seeing again during this surge. Closing these gaps needs to remain a shared priority in order to protect entire communities and end the pandemic.”