LA County logs 3,000 new COVID cases, fueling winter surge fears; hospitalizations near 800

Los Angeles County’s slide into another winter surge of COVID-19 cases continued on Wednesday, Nov. 23, with health officials reporting more than 3,000 new infections and the number of virus-positive patients in county hospitals climbing to nearly 800.

The seven-day average daily rate of people testing positive for the virus also continued an upward climb, reaching 9.4% as of Wednesday, up from 6.5% a week ago.

According to state figures, there were 794 COVID-positive patients in county hospitals as of Wednesday, up from 727 a day earlier. Of those patients, 101 were being treated in intensive care, up from 88 on Tuesday. County health officials said the COVID patient count has averaged 699 over the past seven days, a 30% increase from the previous week.

Health officials have said previously that roughly 40% of virus patients were actually admitted for COVID-related issues, while the rest were admitted for other reasons but tested positive at the hospital.

The county is also now averaging 1,971 new COVID infections per day over the past week, a 39% increase from the previous week.

The county logged 3,077 new cases on Wednesday, raising the cumulative total from throughout the pandemic to 3,524,896.

Overall official case numbers are believed to be artificially low, due to residents who use at-home tests and do not report the results to the county. County Health Officer Dr. Muntu Davis noted last week that many other people who may be infected don’t get tested at all.

The county reported 10 new virus-related deaths Wednesday, giving the county a pandemic death toll of 34,135.

The county has been seeing steadily rising case and hospitalization numbers since the beginning of November, prompting health officials last week to again “strongly recommend” that people wear masks at indoor public settings. Masks are still required indoors at health-care and congregate-care facilities, for anyone exposed to the virus in the past 10 days, and at locations where they are required by the operator.

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“As we prepare to gather for the Thanksgiving holiday, I send my very best wishes to all LA County residents and their loved ones for a joyous celebration,” county Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer said in a statement. “We are grateful for the support and kindness residents have shown each other as together we respond to the continued challenges of COVID-19. As we look forward to other upcoming winter holidays, getting vaccinated with the new updated Fall COVID-19 booster offers you and your family additional protection as you make plans to travel, shop and gather with those you love.

“If we continue to care and protect each other by getting the new bivalent booster and wearing masks indoors we are also helping to reduce stress on our healthcare system and protect dedicated workforce members. The service of essential workers is truly something to be grateful for this Thanksgiving.”

She again noted the persistent spread of flu and respiratory syncytial virus, or RSV, in the county, which are combining with COVID-19 to present a triple threat of respiratory illnesses. She urged residents to receive a flu shot in addition to the COVID booster vaccine.

Health officials also urged people to stay home and avoid Thanksgiving gatherings if they are sick or feeling symptoms of illness.

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