5 things to know about COVID-19 this week

As the weather gets colder, cases and hospitalizations increase

Image of COVID19 mrna vaccine


Thanksgiving is behind us, winter is approaching and the threat of COVID-19 is rising again. Every week, Crosstown details how Los Angeles is faring in the ongoing battle against the coronavirus. Here is the latest.


1) Soaring past 2,000

In October, the average number of daily cases dropped below 1,000 for the first time since April. Now things are again taking a turn for the worse. On Nov. 29, the seven-day average reached 2,185. That marks a 124% increase from one month prior. 


Line chart comparing COVID-19 infections to previous years


From Nov. 23–29, the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health reported 15,295 infections, an 18.2% increase from the week before. On Nov. 23, the department reported 3,077 new cases, the highest daily count since the end of August.


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On Thursday, County Director of Public Health Dr. Barbara Ferrer warned that if the number of cases and other metrics such as hospitalizations continue to increase, an indoor mask mandate could be reinstated in the coming weeks.


2) A not so positive change

For much of October, the COVID-19 test positivity rate hovered around 4%. In the past few weeks, however, it spiked to levels comparable to those in late July.


Line chart of COVID-19 positivity rate


Currently the county positivity rate is 14.7%. One week ago it stood at 8.5%.


3) High hospitalizations

One positive indicator is that COVID-19 deaths remain low, with an average of about eight per day. Even two months ago there were approximately 14 daily fatalities. 


A related metric, however, is swiftly increasing. On Nov. 28, the Department of Public Health reported 1,040 COVID-19 hospitalizations. The level surged 43% in a single week, and surpassed triple digits for the first time since mid-August.


Line chart of COVID hospitalizations


Of course, figures are relative. At the worst point of the pandemic, more than 8,000 patients were in area hospitals with COVID-19.


4) Situation on the streets

The pandemic continues to impact people experiencing homelessness, and just as numbers are increasing in the general population, so are they rising among the unhoused community.


The Department of Public Health reports on these figures biweekly. The latest count tallied 132 cases among the unhoused, an 83% increase from one month prior. Since the beginning of the pandemic, there have been 22,375 COVID-19 cases and 365 deaths among people experiencing homelessness in Los Angeles County.


5) Get those free tests

As cases and the positivity rate rise, it may be worth stocking up on at-home tests, especially if you plan to travel for the holidays. Despite what you may have heard, free testing is available for all Angelenos, regardless of insurance and immigration status. Sometimes though, you need to do a little work to access those tests.


On its Health Services webpage, the county provides a detailed list of where free tests are available. The site also describes how to best test for COVID-19 if you have health insurance, or if your employer or school requires a test. There are additional resources, including a list of dozens of L.A. County libraries where you can pick up an antigen test. Grab a book while you’re at it.


Another option is the pharmacy route, where rapid antigen or PCR tests are often available for pickup and delivery. The CVS website—one of several options—details how most insurance plans will cover up to eight at-home tests each month. 


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 California Department of Public Health.


Interested in our data? Check out the Crosstown coronavirus interactive map or email askus@xtown.la.