Hospital: Hospitalizations have been increasing among elderly residents but case counts are increasing among all groups. Courtesy image

Signs of a growing Covid wave continued this week and officials are asking residents to take precautions to prevent a holiday-fueled spike in the coming weeks. 

Dr. Barbara Ferrer, Director of the LA County Department of Public Health said this week that the county is tracking a substantial uptick in cases, increasing test positivity rates, modest increases in hospitalizations, and relatively stable deaths. She said the County’s count of new cases, reported Thursday as 6,245 for the week, is certainly an undercount as it doesn’t track at-home tests and that the test positivity rate of 4.1 percent is two and a half times higher than it was a month ago. She said the death rate remains stable at about seven per day. 

According to County numbers, the growing case count isn’t evenly distributed among ages. 

“While everyone’s at risk for getting infected with and then becoming severely ill from COVID-19, we know that certain groups have a higher risk,” she said. “For instance, when looking at the 14-day cumulative hospitalization rates by age group, it’s very clear that older adults are substantially more likely to require hospitals than younger individuals. The group that is that the highest risk are adults who are 80 years of age and older.”

She said almost all of those recently hospitalized have been older adults but she cautioned younger residents to be aware that anyone can contract a serious case. 

Last week, Los Angeles County moved into the CDC’s medium community level and while a couple of metrics actually moved into the “high” bracket this week, the county’s overall level remained at “medium.”

“All eight of our early alerts are now considered to be a cause for medium or high concern,” she said. “Two metrics met the threshold for high concern. The first is the percentage of recently sequenced specimens that are identified as a new variant of concern, which has been high for weeks due to the predominance of the BA.2 variant and its sublineages. This week, the number of new outbreaks in skilled nursing facilities also pass the threshold for high concern with 21 new outbreaks opened in just the past days.”

Ferrer said her office is tracking hospitalizations and while the levels are not dangerous yet, she said the trend lines are worrying. 

“As our community transmission and the rate of increase in hospital admissions are of concern,” she said. “If we continue on the current trajectory, we could find that cases and hospitalizations end up exerting stress on our healthcare system within just a few weeks.”

She said with the approaching holiday weekend, residents were encouraged to utilize existing protections like masks, vaccines, tests and treatments if necessary. 

“Regardless of how you plan to spend the holiday. We ask that you reduce the chance of getting or spreading COVID-19 By taking advantage of the protections we just discussed vaccinations, masking testing and therapeutics.”

She said hosts can move gatherings outside to limit the spread and when that’s not possible, improve indoor airflow. 

She said post-gathering safety will also be key to stopping the spread. 

“Of course, if you have any symptoms after this after you gather, please do stay home and away from others get tested.”

Matthew Hall

Matthew Hall has a Masters Degree in International Journalism from City University in London and has been Editor-in-Chief of SMDP since 2014. Prior to working at SMDP he managed a chain of weekly papers...