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COVID Cases Surge This Weekend In LA County, With Highest Daily Numbers In Many Months

Numerous white signs point to an entrance for drive-thru COVID testing. At the far right, passersby walk on a sidewalk. In the background masked workers help people in vehicles.
A drive-through COVID-19 testing center earlier this month in Los Angeles. In recent days, significantly more people in L.A. County have been testing positive for COVID.
(Mario Tama
/
Getty Images)
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As the omicron and delta variants of the coronavirus continue to spread, new cases in L.A. County are on the upswing once again.

On Saturday, the L.A. County Department of Public health reported 3,730 new cases, 21 deaths and 749 hospitalizations. On Sunday, they reported 3,512 new cases, nine deaths and 742 hospitalizations.

In a statement on Friday, when numbers were already starting to surge to the highest case numbers in many months at 3,372, the county’s public health director, Barbara Ferrer, emphasized the importance of masking to prevent the spread of the virus.

“Masking requirements reduce transmission without much disruption to people’s routines and allow businesses to reduce risk for their customers, and workers,” said Ferrer. “The take home message is clear: masking creates safety for employees and customers, reduces COVID transmission in our communities and helps everyone stay safe here in L.A. County.”

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More Vaccinations Needed

During last week's COVID-19 briefing, Ferrer noted that while nearly 2 million people in L.A. County have received a booster dose of the vaccine, even more who are eligible have not.

"That does leave nearly 3.5 million residents eligible for boosters who have not yet received them," she said. "Clearly we have more work to do to get as many people protected as possible as we head into the winter surge."

Boosters are currently available for anyone age 16 and older. In all, as of Dec. 12, the most recent data reported by the county, about 70% of residents age 5 and up (6.7 million) are considered full vaccinated. L.A County also reported that another 55,664 got their first COVID-19 shot between Dec. 6 and Dec 12.

Despite the return of higher case numbers, some experts are hopeful that this winter’s surge will not be as devastating — or as fatal — as last winter’s.

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“We're in a very, very different place … we have all sorts of tools to keep people safe to get on with our lives,” Dr. Ashish Jha, dean of the Brown University School of Public Health, told NPR. “It doesn't mean the pandemic is over. We have some challenges ahead, but we know how to manage them and we can do it.”

Citing vaccines, boosters and rapid tests, Jha added that while case numbers may go up, hospitalizations, severe illnesses and deaths should not be as bad as they’ve been in the past.

What questions do you have about vaccines?