It’s hard to believe, but Saturday marks the two-year anniversary of when Mayor Eric Garcetti enacted the Safer at Home order in the city of Los Angeles, and Gov. Gavin Newsom issued a similar directive for the state of California. The months of worry and fear, nightly televised coronavirus briefings, panic buying at supermarkets and empty freeways seem at once so familiar, and yet so far in the past.
Today the COVID-19 protocols continue to be relaxed. More masks are coming off, and people are attending concerts and sporting events like it’s 2019. Yet concerns linger, and coronavirus cases are again rising in Europe. Locally, health leaders still urge people to exercise caution, particularly in crowded indoor settings.
The Crosstown COVID Tracker helps you stay up to date on the latest and most important data on infections, inoculations and general risk. Information on cases in individual communities is available on the Crosstown coronavirus interactive map.
Dipping below a hospitalization plateau
Daily caseloads are dropping, and it is no longer rare to see fewer than 1,000 new cases in a report from the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health. On Wednesday the seven-day average of new cases was 955. That is a 17.4% decline from the previous week.
Exactly two months ago, on Jan. 18, the seven-day average stood at 37,996 cases.
Weekly COVID-19 cases in Los Angeles County, Feb. 9-March 15
Deaths are also decreasing, though the lingering effects of the Omicron surge mean fatalities are still above where they were in late 2021. On Wednesday, the seven-day average of deaths was 34.6. Last week it was 42.
For health officials, the metric guiding most decisions is hospitalizations, as the number of coronavirus patients requiring high-level treatment defines the level of strain on the health-care system. On Monday, there were 491 people with COVID-19 in area hospitals. That was the first time there had been fewer than 500 hospitalizations in Los Angeles County since July 17, 2021, before the full force of the Delta variant hit the region.
On Thursday, 495 COVID-positive patients were hospitalized in the county.
COVID-19 hospitalizations in Los Angeles County
The daily test positivity rate also remains at a level not seen since before Omicron. On Thursday, 0.7% of tests in the region were coming back positive (this does not account for home tests).
The rate is even lower in the Los Angeles Unified School District, which continues to test most students and staff each week. From March 11-17, there were just 548 COVID-19 cases detected among 311,680 tests. That works out to a positivity rate of 0.18%.
Currently, students and staff on LAUSD campuses are required to wear masks when indoors, but district officials are negotiating with the teacher’s union about turning the requirement into a recommendation.
Some of the vaccination numbers in Los Angeles County are stunning: According to the Department of Public Health, more than 95% of those 65 and up have received at least one dose, and 90% of seniors are fully protected. Additionally, 82.8% of those 5 and older have gotten at least one shot, and 75% are completely protected.
Yet despite repeated recommendations for all adults to get boosted, the numbers linger. Just 3.67 million of the county’s approximately 10 million residents have chosen to receive an additional jab.
Altogether, 18,035,378 shots have gone into arms in Los Angeles County.
Exactly one year ago today, 2,625,700 shots had been administered in the county, and 27% of area residents had received at least one dose.
According to the state of California’s COVID tracking page, from Feb. 21-27, unvaccinated individuals were five times more likely than those who had been boosted to contract the coronavirus. From Feb. 14-20, those without a shot in the Golden State were 14.5 times more likely to die than people who had received a booster.
How we did it: We analyzed coronavirus data related to new cases, deaths, hospitalizations and vaccinations provided by the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health, as well as data from the state of California’s COVID tracking page, and the Los Angeles Unified School District.