Los Angeles County is seeing an uptick in COVID-19-related hospitalizations, with the number of patients nearly doubling over the last two weeks, health officials said. The spike is being blamed on the "more aggressive delta variant" as well as low vaccination rates in certain communities and "more intermingling of unmasked individuals."
On July 12, LA County had 372 hospitalizations, whereas on Monday, when LA Public Health posted its news release, the area was reporting 745. A day later, the hospitalizations jumped to 825 and officials reported 2,067 new cases.
Officials noted a ninefold increase in cases in adults between ages 18 and 29 years old over the last month.
"Almost everyone hospitalized with COVID-19 in LA County is unvaccinated; in the month of June, 92% of those hospitalized with COVID-19 were unvaccinated," the news release stated. "Nationally, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that more than 97% of patients who have been hospitalized with COVID-19 since January have not been vaccinated. And while post-vaccination infections and hospitalizations can happen, these individuals tend to experience less severe illness because the vaccines are highly protective."
Officials also noted that while the trend is concerning, about 0.21% of positive cases result in hospitalization, which is much lower than the winter surge that saw about 5.76% of illnesses requiring hospitalization.
"During the winter surge last year, when case rates were increasing four- or five-fold over the course of a month, we saw hospitalizations multiplying in direct proportion to case rates," Barbara Ferrer, LA County's director of Public Health, said in the news release. "Today, even though our case rates have increased by up to nin times, hospitalization rates are, at most, doubling. Having half our county population vaccinated is largely responsible for this positive trend. It’s because of the differences in trends that we are hopeful our hospitals and health care providers will not suffer the same strain they endured last winter."
LA County had earlier this month returned to requiring masks while in public indoor settings regardless of vaccination status, ahead of CDC’s Tuesday guidance. The county’s health order also "strongly recommends" that all people at "outdoor mega-events" wear a face mask while not at their assigned seats.