734 New Positive Cases and 27 New Deaths Due to COVID-19 in Los Angeles County

LOS ANGELES, CA, Mar 24 – The Los Angeles County Post Surge Response Plan, which aims to protect the most vulnerable residents, keep hospitals and the healthcare system functioning, prevent unconstrained spread and significant illness, and prepare for future challenges presented by the evolving conditions of the virus, uses several metrics to assess risk. These metrics are tied to associated community prevention strategies and early alert signals that trigger a review of contributing factors and potential changes to community and sector-specific prevention strategies.

As of March 22, L.A. County’s current Centers for Disease Control Community Level is low, with 117.8 new cases per 100,000 people in last seven days, 3.5 new COVID-19 admissions per 100,000 population (seven-day total), and 2.6% proportion of staffed inpatient beds occupied by COVID-19 patients (seven-day average).

L.A. County’s Early Alert Signals allow us to quickly determine any concerning trends that can result in future higher rates of transmission and/or increased illness severity.

These signals include three community-wide measures: variants of concern (or VOCs), Emergency Department COVID-19 visits, and cumulative crude case rate in high poverty communities. The signals also include four sector-specific measures, which are: new outbreaks at Skilled Nursing Facilities, new outbreaks at TK-12 schools, new outbreaks at settings with Persons Experiencing Homelessness, and clusters at worksites.

If there are alerts in two or more sectors, which reach the threshold for moderate or high concern, we’ll conduct an in-depth review of contributing factors and consider changes to community prevention strategies. Sector-specific alerts that reach the threshold for moderate or high concern will result in mitigation measures that are tailored to that setting.

As of March 24, only one indicator reached the threshold for moderate concern, the percent of specimens sequenced that are identified as a new variant of concern (based on the World Health Organization’s designation).

Although the current sequencing sample represents a small fraction of all cases, it indicates that between February 27- March 5, 14.7% of sequenced cases were the BA.2 Omicron sub-lineage in LA County. This is an increase from 6.4% of sequenced cases in the prior week.

The increase of the Omicron sub-variant BA.2 in sequenced samples parallels trends nationally and in Europe. This variant is known to be more highly contagious than earlier variants, though it does not appear to be more severe.

Public Health continues to strongly recommend protective measures including, when around others in public settings, wearing a mask with a good fit and filtration (medical masks or N95/KN95/KF94 respirators), especially for individuals who are at elevated risk of severe illness from a COVID-19 infection and for those who live with someone at elevated risk, such as the elderly, those with underlying comorbidities, and immunocompromised individuals. Public Health also strongly recommends residents who need to get vaccinated or who are eligible to get boosted do so now, as the vaccines provide the best protection against COVID and the associated variants. Residents should get tested if they are sick or exposed COVID-19 and stay at home if they receive a positive test result.

“We continue to extend our deepest sympathies to everyone mourning the loss of a loved one from COVID,” said Dr. Barbara Ferrer, PhD, MPH, MEd, Director of Public Health. “The Community Level metrics from the CDC and the County’s early alert system were implemented to help Public Health better assess our level of risk based on the most current COVID-19 local metrics. Although most of our metrics continue to improve, the county continues to see substantial transmission. Along with the increasing circulation of the more-infectious BA.2 subvariant, everyone, especially those who are at elevated risk or live with someone at elevated risk, should wear a high-quality mask and get vaccinated and boosted.”

Today, Public Health reported 27 additional deaths, and 734 new positive cases of COVID-19. Of the 27 new deaths reported today, 11 people were between the ages of 50-64, five were between the ages of 65-79, and 11 were aged 80 years or older. Of the 27 newly reported deaths, 19 people had underlying health conditions. To date, the total number of deaths in L.A. County is 31,561.

Public Health has reported a total of 2,827,802 positive cases of COVID-19 across all areas of L.A. County. Note that 165 additional cases have been added to the cumulative total of positive cases due to a backlog of cases from the surge. Today’s positivity rate is 0.7%.

There are 351 people with COVID-19 currently hospitalized. Testing results are available for more than 11,636,500 individuals, with 22% of people testing positive.

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