Health officials are monitoring the emergence of a new COVID-19 strain that has become dominant in Los Angeles County in recent weeks.

The new strain, XBB.1.5, accounted for nearly 33% of COVID-19 tests in the county for the week of Jan. 21, outpacing the previously dominant strain, BQ.1.1, the Department of Public Health announced Friday.

“While new emergent strains have the potential to drive surges in transmission, Los Angeles County is currently reporting a steady number of COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations compared to the week prior, with deaths slightly lower from what was seen for most of January,” a statement read. “Other parts of the country with significant transmission of XBB.1.5 also have not seen significant increases in COVID-19 hospitalizations or deaths.”

Los Angeles County continues to see a “low” level of COVID-19 transmission of approximately 69 confirmed cases per 100,000 people. The seven-day total for new hospitalizations is seven people per 100,000, health officials said.

On Friday, the Department of Public Health reported 22 additional deaths and 1,482 new positive cases. To date, the total number of deaths in L.A. County is 35,425.

There are 689 people with COVID-19 currently hospitalized. 

“Because the new dominant strain has more potential to cause infection, Public Health officials are asking residents, especially those who are most vulnerable to severe outcomes, to consider using common-sense protections, such as getting the bivalent booster, testing before large gatherings, and seeking immediate treatment, if sick,” the health department said.