Los Angeles Covid Cases Rise Nearly 35% In Past Week, Test Positivity Close To Last Summer’s Peak

If three in a row is a trend, what’s 5 in a row?

“After a relatively calm summer, the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health (Public Health) is reporting a rise in measures of Covid-19 transmission for the fifth consecutive week,” the department announced today.

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“The increase in Covid-19 circulation is likely the combined result of multiple factors, including summer travel, return to school, and the emergence of new Covid-19 variant strains,” the official statement reads.

But, officials, cautioned, “Compared to other points during the pandemic, hospitalizations and deaths remain relatively low.” 

The average of 512 daily cases this week is a nearly 35% increase over last week week. Reported cases do not include home tests, so it’s fairly certain that the actual number of Covid infections is much higher.

Anecdotally, it sure seems like a lot of people are getting sick. Deadline reported a recent outbreak at Lionsgate that caused the studio to require masks on two floors of its Santa Monica office.

Possibly more important, test positivity has risen to 14%, a not insignificant number. That’s above the 13.8% test positivity peak last winter and very close to the peak of 15.64% the county saw last summer.

Based on the most recent variant sequencing in Los Angeles County as of July 22, XBB.1.5 and EG.5 now account for nearly equal proportions of cases. Combined, they make up 31 percent of the total sequenced cases. XBB.2.3 accounts for the next highest proportion of sequenced cases followed by XBB.1.16.1.

Ninety-eight percent of currently circulating strains in Los Angeles County are descendants of Omicron XBB, including EG.5, which is what the fall vaccine, likely to be released next month, will target. Another variant, BA.2.86, is being closely monitored because it has many mutations that may affect how our body responds to an infection. BA.2.86 has not been detected in recent samples in L.A.

Currently, Los Angeles County is reporting a daily average of 422 hospitalizations, a 30 percent increase from the week prior and there has also been a consistent, small increase in the proportion of emergency department visits attributed to Covid over the past month. While hospitalizations are increasing, the current levels are still far lower than what was seen in 2022 during the summer peak, when there was an average of 1,287 COVID patients hospitalized each day.

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