Officials fear winter surge in coronavirus cases

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Wave Wire Services

LOS ANGELES — COVID-19 hospitalizations in Los Angeles County ticked upward again in the latest data as health officials encouraged people to get vaccinated, and warning that unvaccinated residents are far more susceptible to becoming severely ill or dying if they get infected.

According to state figures, there were 632 COVID-positive patients in county hospitals as of Nov. 15, up from 600 the day before. Of those hospitalized, 156 were being treated in intensive care, down from 163.

Another 10 COVID-19 deaths were reported by the county Department of Public Health, giving the county an overall virus death toll of 26,872. Meanwhile, 824 new infections were reported, giving the county a cumulative total from throughout the pandemic of 1,512,147.

The average daily rate of people testing positive for the virus in the county was 1%. The county’s cumulative seven-day case rate, as estimated by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, rose last week to 98 cases per 100,000 residents. That number was in the mid-70s two weeks ago.

At 98 cases per 100,000 residents, the county is on the verge of being downgraded out of the CDC’s “substantial” transmission category to the “widespread” category.

Our weekly case rate is 98 new cases per 100,000 residents, reflecting continued substantial and borderline high transmission across the county,” county Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer said in a statement Nov. 15. “Unfortunately, increased transmission among those not vaccinated will affect vaccinated people, as well — which is why additional protections such as masking remain so important. Getting vaccinated, getting boosters, and masking up indoors and in crowded outdoor spaces remains critical as we confront the real possibility of a winter surge.”

County health officials reiterated that unvaccinated residents are now seven times more likely to become infected with COVID than their vaccinated counterparts, and 44 times more likely to be hospitalized. The risk of death is 60 times higher among the unvaccinated, according to the county.

Of the more than 5.9 million fully vaccinated people in the county, 72,163 have subsequently tested positive, for a rate of 1.22%, according to the county. A total of 2,424 vaccinated people have been hospitalized, for a rate of 0.041%, and 396 have died, a rate of 0.007%.

As of last week, 81% of county residents aged 12 and over have received at least one dose of COVID vaccine, and 73% are fully vaccinated. Of the county’s overall 10.3 million population, 70% have received at least one dose, and 63% are fully vaccinated.

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