More than 14,000 new COVID-19 cases were reported in Los Angeles County since Saturday, health officials said, while the number of virus-positive patients in area hospitals held mostly steady, declining slightly by 10, according to the latest data.
The county Department of Public Health reported 5,708 new cases from Saturday, 4,404 for Sunday and 4,282 for Monday, noting that the numbers are likely an undercount due to reporting delays from the weekend.
The new cases pushed the county over the 3 million mark for the pandemic, with the cumulative number reaching 3,004,975. Health officials said the actual case number is likely much higher, with many people now relying on home tests, the results of which are not always reported to authorities.
The county also reported another 15 virus-related deaths since Saturday, raising the overall death toll to 32,168.
According to state figures, there were 530 COVID-positive patients in Los Angeles County hospitals as of Monday, down from 540 on Sunday. Of those patients, 63 were being treated in intensive care, the same number as Sunday.
The average daily rate of people testing positive for the virus was 3.6% as of Monday, down from 5% on Friday.
The county does not report COVID data on weekends.
“The continued high rate of transmission in the county is concerning, particularly for those at elevated risk,” county Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer said in a statement. “Using all the tools at hand to lower the risk of transmission remains the best approach for enjoying the summer. In addition to masking indoors and staying up to date on vaccinations, knowing your status in certain situations is an important way to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
“Getting tested at home, when planning to attend an event or traveling, or if experiencing symptoms, allows you to stay away from others if you test positive preventing further spread of the virus. Over-the-counter tests are available for free from the federal government, health plans, and at many community sites serving residents with limited means. We encourage everyone to take advantage of these quick and easy tests,” she said.
Ferrer said last week that if virus-related hospital admissions keep rising at the pace seen over the past few weeks, the county could be moved to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s “high” virus-activity category by the end of the month. Reaching that category would mean a return of mandatory indoor mask wearing rules.
The county will move from the “medium” category into the “high” category if its average daily rate of new COVID-related hospital admissions rises above 10 per 100,000 residents, or if the percentage of staffed hospital beds occupied by COVID-positive patients tops 10%.
As of Thursday, the county’s rate of new hospital admissions was 5.2 per 100,000 residents, double the rate from a month ago. The portion of beds occupied by virus patients was still relatively low at 2.7%, but also higher than it was last month.
While indoor masking remains optional in most public locations for now, Ferrer urged people to consider masking up to limit spread and protect vulnerable populations.
Los Angeles County currently requires masks indoors at healthcare facilities, aboard transit vehicles and in transit hubs such as airports, in long-term care facilities, in shelters and cooling centers and in correctional facilities.