The average number of daily new Covid infections in Los Angeles County has jumped by about 300% during the past month and roughly 25% in the past week alone. Today, they topped 3,000 for the first time since mid-February. One month ago, the number of daily cases in L.A. was 1,060. But the increase has not translated to a meaningful rise in local hospitalizations or deaths thus far.
County Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer expressed hope that, given four weeks of rising cases with only a small uptick of hospitalizations, L.A. might avoid a subsequent wave of hospitalizations and deaths like the one it saw in last winter’s Omicron wave.
Asked whether the current jump in daily cases could be considered a “sixth wave” of the pandemic in the county, Ferrer said, “I’m comfortable with you characterizing this as a wave.” But, she added, if it is a wave it is different than the others so far.
“All of our waves have seen an increase in hospitalizations and deaths, and it’s four weeks now and we haven’t seen either of those,” observed the public health director. “I don’t think we have enough data points. … It’s certainly an increase. … I hope that we don’t see exponential growth [in cases].”
She said that Angelenos need to be “keeping our masks on a little more than we were a few weeks ago.”
Ferrer continued: “We think that’ll make the difference. We’re also encouraging people to go get vaxxed and boosted.”
To the suggestion that, given the lack of hospitalizations, the public could stop worrying about large case spikes Ferrer replied, “This is not the time to stop worrying about cases at all.”
She pointed to the rise in hospitalizations in the Northeast and the rapid rise of the latest Omicron subvariant there. The number of Covid patients hospitalized in New York, which saw BA.2.12.1 weeks before L.A., has more than tripled in the past month.
“We don’t know enough about this new variant BA.2.12.1,” said Ferrer. “So let’s continue to be cautious. Let’s continue to be prepared, depending on what we’re learning and seeing.”
City News Service contributed to this report.