COVID-positive hospitalizations still climbing (but also still shy of last winter’s peaks) – Daily News

The number of COVID-19-positive patients in Los Angeles County hospitals continued an upward climb on Thursday, Jan. 6, but it remained well short of the peak seen during last winter’s surge in virus cases.

According to state figures, there were 2,661 COVID-positive patients in county hospitals, up from 2,461 on Wednesday. The number of those patients being treated in intensive care units was 352 on Thursday, up from 330 a day earlier.

The number of COVID-positive patients hasn’t been this high since mid-February of 2021. But the number is still well shy of the peak of more than 8,000 reached last January, at the height of that winter’s surge in virus infections.

While numbers have been rising, officials have noted the generally lower numbers, with the highly infection Omicron variant believed to cause less severe illness, particularly in people who are vaccinated. In fact, many COVID-positive patients in hospitals likely didn’t realize they were infected until they went the hospital for a completely different reason.

Dr. Christina Ghaly, the county director of health services, said roughly two-thirds of the COVID-positive patients at the four county-run hospitals were admitted for other reasons, and only tested positive upon admission.

That marks a stark difference from last winter, when patients were flocking to hospitals due to COVID-related illness.

Surging infection numbers prompted the county this week to amend its public health order, requiring employers to provide upgraded masks to employees who work indoors in close contact with others.

The order, issued Wednesday, will take effect Jan. 17 and requires employers to provide affected workers with “well-fitting medical grade masks, surgical masks, or higher-level respirators, such as N95 or KN95 masks.”

The revised order also amended the definition of outdoor “mega events,” where masking is required, to 5,000 or more attendees; and the definition of indoor “mega” events to 500 or more people. The numbers align with those in the state’s health order. The county’s order also “recommends” that food and drink be consumed only in designated dining areas.

“Given the explosive spread of the virus, activities that put us in close contact with many other people now have an increased risk,” county Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer said in a statement. “As such, everyone needs to be sensible about how to protect themselves and those they love by layering on protections whenever around non-household members.

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