L.A. County reports 53 more COVID-related deaths, 43,883 new cases

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LOS ANGELES (CNS) - Los Angeles County reported 43,883 new cases of COVID-19 and 53 additional deaths associated with the coronavirus today, in numbers that likely reflect reporting delays over the weekend.

The number of COVID patients in Los Angeles County hospitals increased to 4,507, up from 4,386 on Saturday, according to the latest state figures released Sunday. The number of those patients in intensive care rose to 622, up 20 from Saturday's total.

The latest figures come one day after the county reported 66 deaths associated with the virus -- the most fatalities reported in one day since April 2, 2021.

"The extraordinarily high number of new cases reflects worrisome rates of community transmission," the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health said Saturday.

Many coronavirus patients entered the hospital for other reasons and only discovered they had COVID after a mandated test, but the surging numbers are putting a strain on hospitals nonetheless, with many nurses and other staffers unavailable themselves due to the pandemic.

Overall, COVID patient numbers are still well below those seen last winter, when the number topped 8,000.

Health officials are urging residents to avoid going to emergency rooms unless absolutely necessary, and to not go to an emergency room to get tested for COVID.

"As deaths often lag behind surges in cases and hospitalizations, sadly, the increase in deaths does not come as a surprise and tragically, we are prepared for even higher number of deaths in the coming weeks," county Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer said Saturday. "With unvaccinated individuals 22 times more likely to die from COVID-19 compared to those fully vaccinated, residents should not delay getting vaccinated and boosted as these measures are saving lives."

Ferrer has also urged residents to avoid dangerous activities in the coming weeks, particularly those that are indoors and involve mingling with unvaccinated or higher-risk people. She also stressed that while the Omicron variant is easily capable of infecting vaccinated people, the shots are still proving to be effective in preventing infected people from winding up hospitalized.

She called on residents to get vaccinated and obtain booster shots; wear upgraded masks such as N95, KN95 or KF94 varieties; and get tested, saying the county dramatically expanded testing availability after shortages two weeks ago that led to long lines at some test centers.

As of Friday, more than 80% of all adult ICU beds in the county were occupied.

Los Angeles County has logged 2,257,502 cases of COVID-19 and 28,059 deaths associated with the virus since the pandemic began.

More than 10,630,000 individuals have been tested during the pandemic, with 20% of people testing positive to date. The rolling average daily rate of people testing positive for the virus was 17.3% Sunday.

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