Thanks to the declining hospitalization numbers, Los Angeles County moved out of the federal government’s “medium” COVID activity level and into the “low” category on Thursday, Jan. 19.
Earlier this week, the county dipped below 1,000 COVID-related hospitalizations, according to state records.
Experts hope the week’s double dose of good news indicates that the deadly pandemic is on the wane after a winter surge and concerns that tricky new variants were more likely to spread more swiftly through the population in the weeks after rekindled holiday travel and family gatherings.
According to state figures, there were 918 958 COVID-positive patients in county hospitals as of Thursday, down from 958 Wednesday and continuing a downward trend from the past week. Of those patients, 92 were being treated in intensive care units, down from 104 a day earlier.
Officials warned, nonetheless, that common-sense safeguards should still be taken against the enduring virus.
“It could be tempting to interpret this as COVID no longer being a concern,” county Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer said. “The more reasonable explanation is that the new tools and people’s behaviors have made a difference in how COVID spreads.”
Ferrer again encouraged residents to continue taking precautions such as wearing masks in indoor settings, and ensuring they are up to date on vaccinations and boosters.
The seven-day average daily rate of people testing positive for the virus was 5.7% as of Thursday, also continuing a gradual decline.
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Meanwhile, the county reported another 1,502 COVID-19 infections and 31 more virus-related deaths.
The new cases lifted the county’s overall total from throughout the pandemic to 3,665,365.
Health officials have stressed that the official number of cases is an undercount, due to the large number of people who rely on at-home tests without reporting the results to the county. Other people don’t test at all, despite being possibly infected, officials said.
The 31 new deaths gave the county a cumulative virus-related death toll of 35,079.
City News Service contributed to this report