LOS ANGELES (CNS) — Another 6,450 cases of COVID-19 were confirmed in Los Angeles County on Wednesday, while the number of virus-positive patients in county hospitals topped 1,300.
According to state figures, there were 1,328 COVID-positive patients hospitalized in the county on Wednesday, up from 1,299 on Tuesday. Of these patients, 137 were being treated in intensive care, the same number as the day before.
The number of hospitalized patients is the highest since mid-February.
County health officials noted in recent weeks that about 42% of virus-positive patients were admitted specifically for COVID-related illness, while the rest went to the hospital for unrelated reasons. However, all patients infected with the virus require enhanced infection control measures while in hospital, regardless of the reason for admission.
The 6,450 new cases announced on Wednesday brought the cumulative total for the entire pandemic to 3,236,632.
The county’s total number of cases is believed to be undercounted because many residents take advantage of home tests, the results of which are not always reported to health officials.
Another 18 virus-related deaths were also announced Wednesday, bringing the county’s total death toll to 32,566.
The average daily rate of people testing positive for the virus was 16.7% on Wednesday.
County Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer said the recent spike in infections — leading to the ultimate rise in hospitalizations and deaths — was primarily fueled by the BA.5 variant of the virus. The variant was detected in almost half of all local cases who underwent special tests to identify spots of the virus. The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that the variant is responsible for nearly 70% of cases nationwide.
The steady increase in the number of hospitals in recent weeks led to the county being moved to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s “high” virus activity level last Thursday. The move came as the average daily rate of COVID hospitalizations rose to 10.5 per 100,000 population, surpassing the 10 per 100,000 threshold.
If the county stays in the “high” category for two weeks — which seems inevitable — it will reinstate a mandatory universal indoor mask mandate. This is expected to happen on July 29.
If the mask mandate takes effect, it will remain in place until the county falls back into the “medium” virus activity category for two weeks.
Masks are already still mandatory in some indoor spaces — health care facilities, transit centers, on transit vehicles, airports, correctional facilities and shelters. A universal mandate would extend the requirement to all indoor public spaces, including shared office spaces, manufacturing facilities, retail stores, indoor events, indoor restaurants and bars, and schools.