LA County’s COVID Hospitalizations Hit Lowest Level Since Last July

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Veritas medical assistant Ethan Dixon, left, administers the COVID-19 vaccine to eight-year-old Leslie Lemus of Pomona, at the PUSD Indian Hill Conference Center Covid-19 vaccine clinic in Pomona on Friday, March 11, 2022. (Photo by Alex Gallardo, Contrib

The number of COVID-positive patients in Los Angeles County hospitals continues to fall, declining by another 28 people to 537, according to the latest state numbers out today.

Of those patients, 107 were in intensive care, the same as Saturday’s total.

The county’s COVID hospitalizations haven’t been this low since July 2021. The total has been declining steadily since reaching more than 4,800 in mid-January, at the height of the Omicron-fueled winter surge.

On Saturday, the county reported 1,029 new cases of COVID-19 and 52 additional deaths related to the coronavirus, bringing its cumulative totals to 2,811,864 cases and 31,275 fatalities.

The rolling seven-day average daily rate of people testing positive for the virus was 0.7% as of Saturday, according to the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health.

The health department does not report COVID data on Sundays.

The lower numbers have prompted state and local officials to ease indoor mask requirements, and have led the Los Angeles City Council to take steps toward lifting its vaccine mandate for entering many indoor establishments.

California’s new COVID guidance for public schools went into effect Saturday, meaning indoor masking at schools is no longer required. However, state and county officials still strongly recommend indoor masking for students, teachers and staff regardless of vaccination status until the transmission is lower.

Individual school districts in LA County can continue to require masking at schools and during school activities, along with other appropriate safety protections.

The county is also aligning with the state in revising isolation and quarantine requirements for TK-12 schools. Schools must continue to require COVID-19 cases to isolate, and a negative test will be required to exit isolation after day five. Masking and testing for asymptomatic students remaining at schools during their quarantine period are strongly recommended.

“Although the county is now post-surge, Public Health cautions that community transmission is substantial and poses a risk for many individuals, including numerous people working at or attending schools,” county Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer said.

“Having children and staff fully vaccinated creates a powerful layer of protection and continuing masking while the transmission is substantial adds another level of safety for both children and staff in schools. When combined with additional safety precautions, including infection control and testing, schools can continue to offer safe environments for children, staff, and their families,” she added.

County health officials continue to urge parents to get eligible children vaccinated against the coronavirus. This month, 921 school vaccination sites are scheduled with 89% of them located in hard-hit community areas, including South Los Angeles (including Compton and Inglewood), Southeast Los Angeles County (including Bell, Cudahy, Hawaiian Gardens, South Gate, Huntington Park, Lakewood), the San Fernando Valley (Reseda, North Hills, Panorama City, Canoga Park, Pacoima, and Sylmar) and areas in the Antelope Valley.

The health department said local schools continue to see a decline in the number of positive tests and test positivity for their students and staff. Between Feb. 28 and March 4, over 470,000 tests were administered at K-12 schools across the county with 1,381 positive tests, resulting in a test positivity rate of 0.3%.

On Thursday, LA County health officials said they were working to increase the number of providers who can offer residents access to anti-COVID therapeutics, while also striving to raise awareness about their availability.

    According to the Department of Public Health, the oral medications are Paxlovid and Molnupiravir are prescription drugs that must be taken within five days of COVID symptoms developing. Paxlovid is available for anyone age 12 and older who weighs more than 88 pounds. Molnupiravir is available for anyone 18 and over.

    A third medication, Evulsheld, is given through injection and is available for people 12 and over who have not been exposed to the virus and are unable to get a COVID vaccine for medical reasons.

    “Given that the new therapeutics can save the lives of residents who are at elevated risk, Public Health is working closely with partners across the county to make sure they are accessible to those who are most vulnerable to severe illness from a COVID infection,” Ferrer said. “Having sites where residents can both get tested and receive appropriate medications if they are positive is essential and we look forward to working with federal and pharmacy partners to expand the availability of ‘Test to Treat’ programs, especially in our under-resourced communities.”

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