Los Angeles County recorded more than 4,800 new COVID-19 cases over a three-day period ending Monday, as infection numbers continued rising at a concerning level.
The county Department of Public Health reported 2,233 new infections Saturday, 1,506 on Sunday and 1,123 Monday. Figures on Sundays and Mondays have been traditionally lower than expected due to delays in reporting from the weekend.
Overall official case numbers are also believed to be artificially low, due to residents who use at-home tests and do not report the results to the county. County Health Officer Dr. Muntu Davis noted last week that many other people who may be infected don’t get tested at all.
The 4,862 new cases lifted the county’s overall total from through the pandemic to 3,520,094.
The county reported 20 new virus-related deaths over the three-day period — nine from Saturday, six from Sunday and five from Monday. The overall pandemic death toll now stands at 34,118 in the county.
According to the county, the seven-day average daily rate of people testing positive for the virus was 7.4% as of Monday.
An updated number of virus-positive patients in county hospitals was not immediately available. On Saturday, the state reported 670 such patients in county hospitals, with 76 of them being treated in intensive care units.
Health officials have said previously that roughly 40% of virus patients were actually admitted for COVID-related issues, while the rest were admitted for other reasons but tested positive at the hospital.
The county has been seeing steadily rising case and hospitalization numbers since the beginning of November, prompting health officials on Thursday to announce that they are again “strongly recommending” that people wear masks at indoor public settings.
The recommendation falls short of a masking mandate, but masks are still required indoors at health-care and congregate-care facilities, for anyone exposed to the virus in the past 10 days, and at locations where they are required by the operator, Davis said Thursday.
For the past few months, indoor masking has been a matter of personal preference, unless individual businesses or locations chose to require them. The county shifted back to “strongly recommending” indoor mask wearing on Thursday when the local seven-day average of daily new COVID-19 infections rose to 100 per 100,000 residents, up from 86 per 100,000 a week ago. The rate the previous week was 65 per 100,000 residents.
The rising case rates mirrored steady increases seen in daily reported case numbers and hospitalizations since the beginning of November.
Davis said the county is currently reporting about 1,500 new cases per day, up from 1,300 per day a week ago and up 52% since Nov. 1. He noted that the reported cases only represent a portion of actual infections occurring in the county, since many residents rely on at-home tests that are not reported to health officials, while many more don’t get tested at all.
Average daily COVID-related hospital admissions are averaging 97 per day, up 26% from 77 per day last week, and a 54% jump since Nov. 1, Davis said.
Daily reported virus-related deaths remain relatively low, at about eight per day, but Davis said with the increases in case rates and hospitalizations, that number could begin to climb.