Coronavirus infections are on the rise again in Los Angeles County with a 40% increase in cases over the past week, officials said Thursday.
Local health officials have continued to monitor indicators throughout the community for early warning that transmission and risk may be increasing. And while the county remains at a “low concern” level this week, many metrics are trending in the wrong direction, the Department of Public Health said Friday.
The weekly case rate is now 126 new cases per 100,000 residents, meaning the county is again experiencing a high rate of transmission for the first time since early March.
Hospitalizations are also slowly starting to rise, Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer said, and while the numbers remain relatively low, they are rising every day, with 253 people hospitalized with the virus on Friday.
With Los Angeles County experiencing a high rate of transmission and cases steadily increasing, the department encouraged residents to take care to avoid becoming infected with COVID-19 and spreading it to others.
“During this period of high transmission and the potential for more infectious variants, one of the best and easiest safety measures is to wear a well-fitting, high-filtration mask or respirator when indoors with others,” Ferrer said. . “With cases on the rise, the potential for more contagious variants, and many opportunities for exposure, this is a good time to make the decision to get vaccinated or boosted and wear a mask or respirator when indoors with others.”
The highly contagious omicron BA.2 subvariant is now the predominant strain and was identified in 88% of recent samples from Los Angeles County.
Nationwide, the BA.2 subvariant is also the predominant lineage, with 68% of sequenced samples from that strain for the week ending April 2, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimated.
Another subvariant, called BA.2.12.1, is also on the rise in the US, accounting for approximately 29% of samples sequenced for the same week. The new subvariant is estimated to be 20% to 30% more transmissible than BA.2, and could quickly become the country’s dominant strain, health officials said.
In Los Angeles County, 7% of sequenced samples were identified as BA.2.12.1 during the week ending April 9, up from 3% the previous week. The California Department of Public Health estimated that BA.2.12.1 will account for 50% of positive cases in the state within days.
County schools also saw a spike in COVID-19 cases after spring break and the holidays. Among the 529,000 coronavirus tests administered last week, 1,842 came back positive for the virus. That’s an increase from the 844 positive tests that appeared the week ending April 8, officials said.
While masks are no longer required inside schools, health authorities continue to recommend them, particularly for younger children who are not vaccinated and as the highly contagious omicron BA.2 subvariant circulates.
While not yet of great concern, outbreaks at skilled nursing facilities and sites that serve the homeless have also started to rise recently, health officials said.
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