“We now have a really totally different January than anticipated, and for that I’m grateful,” mentioned LA County Public Well being Director Barbara Ferrer on Thursday, saying in her weekly tackle that because of continued declines in new COVID-19 instances this week, LA County has now moved again into the “low” neighborhood tier as outlined by the CDC.
Ferrer reported an averaged 1,100 new instances per day this week in LA County, down from 1,700 the week earlier than. Although she additionally famous, as typical, that this represents a major undercount since extra persons are utilizing house exams as of late, and people outcomes don’t get reported.
In different excellent news, hospital admissions have been additionally down this week, Ferrer mentioned, with a median of 136 per day…although that’s nonetheless double the quantity from October. We’re now additionally averaging 20 deaths per day, which continues to be greater than the 8 per week round Thanksgiving, and we hit a tragic milestone of 35,000 whole deaths from COVID-19 because the begin of the pandemic. And Ferrer additionally identified that hospitalizations and deaths stay particularly excessive in our most weak teams, together with older individuals and those that stay in excessive poverty areas.
Since new case numbers at the moment are considerably underreported, Ferrer mentioned, the County additionally depends on wastewater testing, the place ranges didn’t actually lower this week, however began to stage off at about 70% of final summer time’s peak concentrations, and nonetheless inside the “excessive” stage of concern. On the constructive aspect, although, Ferrer famous that wastewater ranges are additionally not spiking once more, as we’ve seen previously couple of Januaries…and which means the cautionary measures we’ve been taking are making a distinction.
However trying on the entire image, with a brand new case fee of 75 per 100,000 residents, we do now qualify for the CDC’s “low” neighborhood tier, indicating that our well being care system shouldn’t be at the moment being confused by the illness.
Normally, on the low neighborhood stage, Ferrer mentioned masks at the moment are a matter of particular person alternative in indoor areas, although they’re nonetheless really helpful in indoor public areas for individuals with elevated danger components, and for for 5 days in workplaces for individuals who have just lately examined detrimental after not less than 5 days of isolation (that’s a statewide requirement set by the California Occupational Security and Well being Administration). Additionally, she mentioned, it’s price noting that masks are nonetheless required in well being care and congregate care settings, in most indoor areas for 10 days after publicity to COVID-19, and in locations the place it’s required by a particular enterprise, faculty or office (that are allowed to set their very own insurance policies).
Curiously, Ferrer mentioned, a few of the extra transmissible COVID-19 variants now on the scene haven’t but develop into the main threats they have been feared to be. For instance, the BQ1 and BQ1.1 Omicron subvariants’ share of whole infections held fairly regular this week at 68.2% of the whole, whereas the newer XBB and XB1.5 variants grew from 7.3 to 10.3%, which is lower than initially anticipated by this level and brings hope that our general numbers will stay comparatively low for not less than the subsequent a number of weeks.
Additionally, by the use of evaluating XBB1.5’s affect, Ferrer in contrast the share of XBB1.5 instances within the LA space to these in different main metropolitan areas, together with present hospitalization charges. If this specific variant have been driving extra hospitalizations, she mentioned, XBB1.5 hospitalizations can be highest in cities with a bigger variety of XBB1.5 instances, however that hasn’t essentially occurred. For instance, Ferrer reported, LA County at the moment has extra XBB1.5 instances than Chicago, nevertheless it has a decrease variety of COVID-19 hospital admissions. So “this pressure of Omicron shouldn’t be having a significant influence on hospitalizations right now,” Ferrer mentioned, which is yet one more indicator that our present mitigation measures are working.
One other attention-grabbing statistic Ferrer checked out this week was the variety of “co-morbidities” (or danger components) present in sufferers hospitalized for COVID-19 in LA County. From the start, she mentioned, these traits have remained fairly predictable, with the smallest share of COVID-19 sufferers having no comorbidities, and the chances rising with the variety of comorbidities…with the best share of COVID-19 sufferers having three or extra comorbidities.
On the brighter aspect, Ferrer mentioned, the numbers do present that our latest bivalent boosters positively do assist to guard towards COVID-19 hospitalizations and deaths. In actual fact, people who find themselves unvaccinated have hospitalization charges thrice greater than those that are vaccinated however not boosted…and 7 occasions greater than those that are each vaccinated and boosted. And deaths are 4 occasions greater for many who are unvaccinated than those that are vaccinated however haven’t acquired the newest booster shot, and virtually 8 1/2 occasions greater than those that are each vaccinated and boosted with the newest bivalent vaccine.
So Ferrer strongly really helpful that those that haven’t but acquired their bivalent boosters achieve this quickly, and that everybody proceed to make use of different frequent sense protections to assist defend those that are essentially the most weak to an infection, hospitalization and loss of life from COVID-19. As at all times, she mentioned, that features carrying masks in indoor and/or crowded areas, testing earlier than and after attending massive gatherings, and contacting your well being care supplier to obtain therapeutic therapies when you get contaminated.
“Shifting into the low neighborhood stage means lowered danger,” Ferrer mentioned, “nevertheless it doesn’t imply no danger, particularly for these most weak…Low neighborhood stage shouldn’t be a promise and it doesn’t signify the top of the pandemic.” As an alternative she mentioned, “It does present that we all know much more about COVID-19 and the way it works, and find out how to successfully use the instruments we now have. My hope is that individuals will proceed to be sensible about navigating life with this virus and that we’re really getting into a brand new part.”