The month in COVID: October
This is a curious time in the ongoing battle against the coronavirus. The third winter with COVID-19 is on the horizon, but the situation has recently been stable in Los Angeles County. Here is Crosstown’s monthly look at the pace of the pandemic.
October was expected to be an important month for vaccinations. The bivalent booster became available to Angelenos over 12 at the end of August. With the weather starting to cool, health experts hoped that people would take the opportunity to gain protections against the Omicron variants. Additionally, the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health has been warning about a severe flu season.
Yet countywide vaccination rates are anemic. According to the Department of Public Health, only 9,573 county residents received COVID vaccine doses in October, the lowest monthly count ever. Last October, by comparison, 196,263 shots went into arms, according to the Public Health Department’s vaccine dashboard. The peak vaccination period occurred in March 2021, when more than 1.7 million Angelenos received shots.
According to statewide vaccination data, just 12% of county residents have gotten their bivalent jab. That is below the California rate of 13.3%.
The number of new infections was low in October, and is still far below the figures experienced during a summer surge. That helps explain why very few people don masks these days. And forget about social distancing.
The Department of Public Health reported 30,158 cases in October, marking a 37.2% drop from the previous month. The daily peak came on Oct. 6, with 1,822 cases. The low was the 459 cases recorded on Oct. 16.
Case counts are lower than they were at the end of October 2021. Last year, the seven-day average during much of the month was around 1,200 cases. On Oct. 31, 2022, the average was 979.
Still, this doesn’t call for a celebration. In the first week of November, cases started climbing again. On Nov. 8, the seven-day average reached 1,226 cases. Clearly, COVID-19 is still here.
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Positivity rate and hospitalizations
In October, the positivity rate fluctuated within a narrow range, often around 3% or 4%. This compares with a rate of over 10% at the beginning of August. According to the Department of Public Health, the daily test positivity rate was 4% on Oct. 1, and 3.9% on the last day of the month.
While the positivity rate remained stagnant, hospitalizations declined during October. On Oct. 1, health officials reported that 494 people were in area hospitals with COVID-19. On Oct. 31, the figure had dropped to 392, a level not seen since May.
Last month, the average number of hospitalizations per day was 435. This was a 12.3% drop from the nearly 500 average hospitalizations in September.
The number of COVID-19 related deaths remains lower than in recent months, but still above the level recorded in the spring. About 329 county residents died of the coronavirus in October. This is a 12% decrease from September. The number of daily deaths peaked at 15 on Oct. 14.
At the beginning of the month, the seven-day average for COVID-19 fatalities was 11. On Nov. 8, it was down to six.
On Oct. 31, the Department of Public Health reported 33,975 deaths due to the coronavirus since the start of the pandemic. As of Wednesday, the figure stood at 34,032 fatalities.
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.
Interested in our data? Check out the Crosstown coronavirus interactive map or email firstname.lastname@example.org.