Virus transmission remains at high level, official says

Wave Wire Services

LOS ANGELES — The number of COVID-19-positive patients in county hospitals tumbled again, according to the latest data Oct. 4, but health officials warned that transmission of the virus remains at a high level.

According to state figures, there were 768 COVID-positive patients hospitalized in the county as of Oct. 4, down from 790 Oct. 3. There were 227 of those patients in intensive care, down from 228 a day earlier.

The number of COVID-positive people hospitalized in the county has fallen 31 times in the past 35 days, bringing the number down from a summer peak of nearly 1,800.

Another seven COVID-19 deaths were reported by the county Department of Public Health, raising the overall death toll to 26,160. A total of 853 new infections were reported, giving the county a cumulative total from throughout the pandemic to 1,463,889.

Case numbers reported on Mondays are traditionally low due to delays in reporting from the weekend. The average daily rate of people testing positive for the virus was 1%.

According to the county Department of Public Health, the agency is investigating 19 COVID outbreaks at correctional and law enforcement settings in the county, down slightly from 23 outbreaks it was investigating one month ago on Sept. 3.

There were 84 new cases reported in correctional facilities during the week that ended Oct. 1, compared to 434 that occurred in the week ending Sept. 24.

To date, there have been 11,635 cases among inmates and staff at correctional facilities in the county.

“While we are seeing lower case and hospitalization rates, transmission is still at a substantial level countywide, and we have a way to go before we are at a low level of transmission,” county Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer said in a statement. “Everyone is safer when transmission is a lot less — especially those living and working in high-risk settings, including the prisons and jails. With growing evidence that COVID is airborne indoors, allowing for more efficient virus transmission, vaccinations and masking are powerful tools for protecting those who are incarcerated and those caring for them.”

Figures Ferrer provided Sept. 30 showed 77% of eligible Los Angeles County residents aged 12 and over have received at least one vaccine dose, and 69% are fully vaccinated. Among the county’s overall 10.3 million population, including those under age 12 who aren’t yet eligible for shots, 66% have received at least one dose and 59% are fully vaccinated.

While Ferrer said the overall numbers are impressive, “millions of eligible residents remain unvaccinated.”

Black residents continue to have the lowest vaccination rate in the county, with just 54% having received at least one dose. Latino residents have a 62% vaccination rate, while 72% of white residents have at least one dose and 81% of Asians.

Starting Oct. 7, at least one dose of vaccine will be required for anyone attending an outdoor mega-event of 10,000 or more people in the county, and for anyone patronizing or working at an indoor bar, brewery, winery or distillery. Full vaccination will be required in those settings starting Nov. 4.

The city of West Hollywood has enacted a similar mandate at indoor businesses, with the same deadline, and the city of Los Angeles is expected to approve the same rule this week.

Los Angeles Unified School District students taking part in extracurricular activities must be fully vaccinated by Oct. 31, while all district students must be fully vaccinated by Dec. 19.