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It’s Been Three Years Since The First COVID-19 Case In LA County. Where Are We Now?

A line graph showing COVID-19 cases, hospitals and deaths over time, beginning in March, 2020 until now. All three metrics are much lower than previous Januaries.
All three metrics are much lower than in previous Januaries.
Courtesy of the L.A. County Dept. of Public Health)
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On January 26, 2020, the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health reported the first confirmed case of COVID-19 in the County and the fourth case in the United States. Since then, more than 3.6 million cases have been reported, and more than 35,200 Angelenos have died. And we’ve learned a lot about the virus that causes COVID-19.

Mild winter: We’ve been through surge after surge, but right now it’s pretty calm. Newly reported COVID-19 cases have declined to an average of 960 per day from nearly 2,400 at the beginning of the year. This is also the first January we haven’t experienced a huge rush of post-holiday season COVID-19 patients so sick they need hospital care. About 104 COVID-19 positive people were admitted to the hospital each day in the last week.

What changed? Three things, said L.A. County Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer.Lots of people have been infected. Lots of people are vaccinated and boosted. And I think the third thing is, what we're seeing now are new strains of omicron, not new variants. We know our vaccines are effective against omicron. They're working really well. That combination, I think, is really helping us this winter.”

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But people are still getting infected: And people are still dying. To date, 625 people have died in L.A. County due to COVID-19 in January alone. Recent data from Public Health shows unvaccinated people are more than seven times more likely to die than those who received the bivalent booster, available to people 6 months and older.

COVID-19 outbreaks in schools are up: Fifteen elementary schools, three high schools and two middle schools all reported COVID-19 outbreaks of three or more cases last week. Children under 18 are among the least boosted age groups in L.A. County.

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