Los Angeles Passes 2 Million Total Covid Cases Since Start Of Pandemic

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Los Angeles County has surpassed the 2 million mark in the total number of COVID-19 cases confirmed throughout the pandemic, with 43,582 new infections reported on Monday, Jan. 10. Another 13 deaths were also reported.

The new cases pushed the county’s total to 2,010,964 while the death toll climbed to 27,798.

Health officials have said previously that about 90% of people who died from COVID-19 had underlying health conditions. Of the 13 deaths reported Monday, nine had underlying conditions, according to the county Department of Public Health.

The number of COVID-positive patients in county hospitals also continued an unnerving rise, reaching 3,472, according to state figures. That was up from 3,364 on Sunday. The number of hospitalized patients being treated in intensive care was 482 as of Monday, up from 435 a day earlier.

Los Angeles County has surpassed the 2 million mark in total number of COVID-19 cases confirmed throughout the pandemic, with 43,582 new infections reported on Monday, Jan. 10. Another 13 deaths were also reported.

The new cases pushed the county’s total to 2,010,964 while the death toll climbed to 27,798.

Health officials have said previously that about 90% of people who died from COVID-19 had underlying health conditions. Of the 13 deaths reported Monday, nine had underlying conditions, according to the county Department of Public Health.

The number of COVID-positive patients in county hospitals also continued an unnerving rise, reaching 3,472, according to state figures. That was up from 3,364 on Sunday. The number of hospitalized patients being treated in intensive care was 482 as of Monday, up from 435 a day earlier.

The current surge in cases in being driven by the highly transmissible omicron variant of the virus.

“While it is true that omicron is much more infectious than previous COVID strains, there are many effective strategies available for reducing transmission risks over the next few weeks,” Ferrer said. “At the top of the list is avoiding hazardous activities where people are unmasked and in close contact with others. Gatherings should also be postponed for a few weeks, especially if there are participants who are not fully vaccinated, and everyone cannot test before getting together. Lastly, upgrading masks to those that provide a better barrier against virus particles is a commonsense step that increases our own protection along with those around us.”

The county’s rolling average rate of people testing positive for the virus was 21.4% as of Monday, up from 20.6% Sunday and 20.9% Saturday. The rate was less than 1% in November.

And while still well short of the peak hospitalization numbers seen last winter — when more than 8,000 COVID-positive patients filled hospitals — the rising number is still generating wide concern. Health care facilities are finding themselves increasingly short-staffed, in part because of COVID infections among health care workers.

Staffing issues have gripped hospitals across the region.

Huntington Hospital President and CEO Dr. Lori J. Morgan said the Pasadena medical center has managed past surges and has applied what the staff has learned to respond to the waves of infections.

“But quite frankly,” Morgan told the Pasadena City Council on Monday, “our health care workers are exhausted.”

“We have a number of staff that are out because either they’ve been exposed to COVID or have COVID,” Morgan said. “We do have adequate staffing,” but that’s at the price of bringing in over 200 nurses from other areas.”

Dr. Gurjeet Kalkat, Chief Medical Officer of Emanate Health, called staffing the “No. 1 challenge for the past three months, but it’s gotten worse in the past few weeks with this omicron spike.” Emanate owns Queen of the Valley Hospital in West Covina; Inter-Community Hospital in Covina and Foothill Presbyterian Hospital in Glendora.

“Mostly, nursing has been affected; much less on the physician side,” said Kalkat. “That has been a huge challenge and we are working to recruit more and more travel nurses, as we say, to compensate for the loss of nursing staffing.”

Meanwhile, sites around Los Angeles County continued to expand testing capacity on Monday, responding to the intensified demand.

The county Department of Health Services launched the new “Pick-Up Testing Kit” program, aimed at people who cannot get appointments at testing clinics, allowing residents to pick up a PCR test kit, perform the test and drop off the kit for processing. Results would be available within 24-48 hours, officials said.

In recent weeks, the county has added testing sites, expanded the days and hours of operation for existing sites, and added mobile testing units, but long lines at some testing centers have endured.

The new at-home testing program will operate out of 13 sites, where the kits will be available without an appointment while daily supplies last. The kits will test for both COVID-19 and Influenza A and B, as do the in-person testing centers around the county.

“We look forward to reducing the waiting time to get tested for individuals unable to book an appointment,” said county Director of Community Mobile Testing Operations Paula Siler. “Once all 13 Pick-Up Testing locations are fully operating and once our Home Testing Kit by mail program is simultaneously relaunched later this week, we will have successfully added over 10,000 additional daily Covid tests available to the residents of LA County.”

Last week, the county was forced to suspend its program offering free at-home tests “due to high demand and shipping constraints.”. That program allowed residents to simply sign up through the county’s website, allowing them to get a test mailed to their homes through Fulgent Genetics.

According to Fulgent, no new orders will be accepted until at least Jan. 12. Incoming samples from tests that were previously distributed are still being processed. As of Monday, the program was still listed as “temporarily paused,” but officials said it would relaunch later this week, in tandem with the new pickup program.

“We look forward to reducing the waiting time to get tested for individuals unable to book an appointment,” said Paula Siler RN, MS Director of Community Mobile Testing Operations at the LA County Department of Health Services. “Once all 13 Pick-Up Testing locations are fully operating and once our Home Testing Kit by mail program is simultaneously relaunched later this week, we will have successfully added over 10,000 additional daily COVID tests available to the residents of LA County.”

Officials cautioned that the “Pick-Up Testing Kits” are intended for residents who are experiencing symptoms or believe they have been exposed to someone with COVID-19. They should not be used by people who are testing as a requirement to return to school, work or to attend events.

The county’s in-person COVID-19 testing sites are posted here. They offer tests at no out-of-pocket cost, regardless of insurance coverage or immigration status.

County officials cautioned that not all current sites are affiliated with the county; many clinics are also being operated by private companies, private health care systems and local municipalities and may charge for testing.