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LA’s COVID Cases Rise 20% In One Week

A line graph shows new coronavirus cases increasing in LA County, while hospitalizations and deaths remain relatively low.
(Courtesy of the L.A. County Dept. of Public Health)
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The steady rise in reported coronavirus cases continues in Los Angeles County, due to high transmission of the more infectious COVID-19 sub variants. More than 3,400 new cases were reported Thursday — the highest level since mid-February.

County Health Director Barbara Ferrer said the direction of case trends is concerning.

“It does alert all of us to the need to really try to get our case numbers under control. We do need to stabilize and we do need to start seeing a downward trend in order to not have to worry about getting to a high community level as defined by CDC,” Ferrer said at a Thursday news conference.

The increasing case rate means L.A. County is on the cusp of the CDC’s medium community level rating, which has a weekly case rate threshold of 200 cases per 100,000 residents.

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“Should the L.A. County community level move to high, signifying very high transmission causing stress on the healthcare system, all residents and workers will need to wear a protective mask when indoors,” Ferrer said.

On average, 2,600 cases per day were reported in the past week, nearly a 20% increase from the previous week. The county’s transmission rate remains in the CDC’s "high" category. The number of people in the hospital with COVID-19 remains relatively low, with about 250 patients and four deaths per day. The county’s positivity rate has ticked up to 2.6%.

Ferrer said the reason we’re not seeing increases in hospitalizations and deaths are varied and include vaccinations, the lag between infection and severe illness, some natural immunity from previous infections, and more readily available therapeutics such as Paxlovid. Ferrer cautioned that just because you’ve had COVID-19 once and recovered doesn’t mean you can’t contract it again.

A line graph showing worksite clusters of coronavirus infections increasing in the last week.
Courtesy of the L.A. County Dept. of Public Health)

“It is reasonable to expect that we're going to see some reinfections. There's evidence that our vaccines will continue to protect those who are vaccinated from severe illness, especially if they're boosted,” she said.

Worksite clusters jumped from 108 in the week ending May 2 to 140 last week, as more people return to in-person work places. About 37% of the clusters were in the retail trade sector alone, particularly in food and beverage shops, building material and garden equipment and supply dealers, and electronics and appliance stores.

Clusters are three or more cases in a 14-day period. Employers are required to report clusters to the health department, which conducts an investigation to determine if people came to work with the infection or picked it up at the workplace.

What questions do you have about the pandemic and health care?
Jackie Fortiér helps Southern Californians understand the pandemic by identifying what's working and what's not in our health response.