Angelenos should avoid ‘non-essential activities’ amid COVID surge, says LA County Public Health Director – CBS Los Angeles

LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) – As COVID-19 cases reach unprecedented levels due to the highly contagious variant of Omicron, Los Angeles County public health officials are advising the public to avoid certain non-essential gatherings, such as indoor parties with unvaccinated people.

A medical worker takes a swab sample at a drive-thru COVID-19 testing site in Los Angeles on Jan. 10, 2022. (Getty Images)

LA County Public Health Director Dr. Barbara Ferrer issued the recommendation Tuesday while speaking to the LA County Board of Supervisors.

“While we are in the wave, we ask that you exercise extra caution, even if you are vaccinated and boosted,” Ferrer said. “One way to reduce transmission is to wear a high quality mask whenever you are around non-household members… We also ask that over the next few weeks we all try to avoid non-essential activities where people are unmasked and in close contact with others.

“We know how important getting together with friends is for our well-being. We need to be sure we can protect each other. The reality is that parties and events – especially those indoors with people who are unvaccinated or at high risk of serious illness – facilitate the spread of this virus. Limiting our time with others to these more essential activities related to work or school is a prudent step that everyone should take whenever possible.

Despite the recommendation, last week Ferrer said there were no plans to move the Super Bowl, which is scheduled to take place at SoFi Stadium in Inglewood on Feb. 13.

“It will be difficult if the surge continues into February, but I think we are working closely with the NFL and SoFi Stadium to have a wonderful Super Bowl here with the proper safety precautions that will keep fans and our community safe. community,” Ferrer said during a Jan. 6 video conference call with media.

Nonetheless, the NFL has been investigating contingency plans, however, including using AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas.

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Meanwhile, LA County on Tuesday reported 34,827 new cases of coronavirus and 15 deaths from the disease. It comes after LA County recorded 45,584 new cases on Sunday, the highest daily number since the pandemic began.

On Monday, LA County hit 2 million confirmed coronavirus cases since the pandemic began.

The seven-day test positivity rate is at a staggering 22%, up from just 1% in November.

According to the latest state data, the number of people hospitalized with the coronavirus in LA County on Tuesday was 3,766, about five times more than just a month ago. There were nine times more unvaccinated people hospitalized with COVID-19 than fully vaccinated people with boosters, according to DPH.

According to data through the end of December, unvaccinated people were 22 times more likely to die from the coronavirus than vaccinated people, DPH said.

LA County Health Services Director Dr. Christina Ghaly told the board that despite the increase in patient numbers, the Omicron-powered surge is proceeding differently in hospitals than previous surges. She said last fall about a third of COVID patients ended up in intensive care, but that number is only about 10% to 15% this time around, at least in the four hospitals run by the county, which likely reflects conditions in other medical care. centers.

She also said about 40% of COVID-positive patients at county hospitals were admitted specifically because of the virus, while the rest were not told they had been infected until they were admitted for something else. . In the last surge, 80-90% of COVID patients were admitted due to virus-related illness.

Ghaly said that despite the changes and numbers that still overshadow last winter’s surge – when more than 8,000 COVID patients were hospitalized – current staffing shortages are creating more critical conditions in hospitals. She pointed to the large number of healthcare workers who have retired or moved into non-frontline positions. She also noted that the surge in COVID infections has also impacted healthcare workers, leaving many of them unavailable to work due to illness or exposure.

As of Jan. 6, 80% of eligible county residents ages 5 and older had received at least one dose of the vaccine, while 71% were fully vaccinated. Of the county’s total population of 10.3 million, 76% have received at least one dose and 68% are fully immunized.

(© Copyright 2022 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All rights reserved. City News Service contributed to this report.)

Michelle J. Kelley