When it comes to the coronavirus, the mood in Los Angeles County can be summed up in two words: cautious optimism. Actually, make that three words: very cautious optimism.
The optimism comes from metrics and case numbers that continue to improve. On Wednesday, the seven-day average of new cases was 687. That’s a 2.3% decrease from one week prior. At the end of January, the seven-day average was 30,878.
Weekly COVID-19 cases in Los Angeles County, Feb. 23-March 29
The caution stems from the gradually increasing and highly contagious BA.2 subvariant, which is now the dominant COVID-19 strain in the United States. The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health on Wednesday pointed to the rising threat, again urging people to get vaccinated and boosted.
Speaking of boosters, on Tuesday the U.S. Food and Drug Administration authorized a second booster dose of Pfizer and Moderna vaccines for people 50 and older. The shot, which can be taken four months after the last inoculation, would mean this group could have a fourth jab.
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.
The 587 infections diagnosed on Wednesday means that new daily cases in Los Angeles County have remained below 1,000 for two weeks. It remains to be seen if this will be a low point before an increase due to BA.2.
Deaths continue to descend from the heights of the Omicron surge. On Wednesday, the Department of Public Health reported 27 COVID-19 fatalities. The seven-day average of deaths on Wednesday was 19. Last week it was 25.
Weekly COVID-19 deaths in Los Angeles County, Feb. 23-March 29
A shrinking number of hospitalizations is a strong indicator for the regional healthcare system. On Wednesday, 325 people in Los Angeles County were hospitalized with COVID-19, the lowest figure since July 8.
Two months ago, there were 3,852 COVID-positive individuals in county hospitals.
COVID-19 hospitalizations in Los Angeles County, Jan. 1-March 29
Community transmission also remains at a low level. The daily test-positivity rate in the county Wednesday was 0.9%. The last time the figure was north of 1% was March 4.
As has been the case for months, the rate is even lower on Los Angeles Unified School District campuses, where students and staff are tested each week. From March 23-29, the LAUSD identified 384 positive results among 271,354 tests administered. This works out to a 0.14% positivity rate.
Vaccines remain vital
Despite continued pleas for everyone to get vaccinated and boosted, the local inoculation level appears to have plateaued, and relatively few new people are getting jabbed. There were only 4,760 second doses administered over the last week.
Additionally, relatively few people are taking advantage of the extra shot. Out of the nearly 10 million county residents, just 3.72 million have received an additional dose.
Altogether, 18,130,179 shots have gone into county residents’ arms. This time last year, 4,013,521 jabs had been administered, and 26.8% of individuals 12 and up had received at least one shot.
According to the State of California’s COVID-19 tracking page, from March 7-13, unvaccinated residents were 4.2 times more likely to contract COVID-19 than boosted individuals. Additionally, from Feb. 28-March 6, unvaccinated people were 11 times more likely to die from COVID-19 than boosted residents.
Through March 24, 83% of county residents 5 and up had received at least one dose of the vaccine. Nearly 75% of them are fully vaccinated.
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 Los Angeles Unified School District.