LA County’s COVID hospitalizations fall to 1,502 as omicron’s grip loosens

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The number of COVID-positive patients in Los Angeles County hospitals has fallen to just over 1,500, a huge drop from the middle of last month, when it stood at over 4,800, according to the latest state figures released on Saturday, Feb. 19.

There were 1,502 patients with COVID-19 at county hospitals, a decline of 114 from Friday’s total. Of those patients, 305 were in intensive care, down from 342 the previous day.

The latest numbers came as local health officials reported 85 additional deaths associated with COVID-19 and 3,221 new positive COVID tests, bringing the county’s cumulative totals to 2,780,323 cases and 30,300 fatalities.

The rolling average rate of people testing positive for the virus was 2.1% as of Saturday, according to the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health — down from 2.4% Friday, and 3.3% last Sunday.

The dip in hospitalizations prompted the county this week to drop its mask-wearing requirement for outdoor mega-events and in outdoor spaces at schools and child-care centers. The county’s indoor masking mandate remains in effect, even though the state lifted its indoor mask-wearing rule.

The county rule will remain in place until its transmission rate — as defined by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention — falls to the “moderate” level and stays there for two weeks. That requires the county to reach a rate of infection rate of 50 per 100,000 residents. As of Friday, the county’s rate was 300 per 100,000.

That rate has been steadily dropping, and Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer told the Board of Supervisors on Tuesday that at the current pace, the county will reach the “moderate” rate by March 16, meaning the indoor mask mandate would lift by March 30.

According to figures released this week, 82% of eligible residents aged 5 and over have received at least one dose of COVID vaccine, while 74% are fully vaccinated, and 36% are fully vaccinated and received a booster shot.

Of the county’s overall 10.3 million population, 78% have had at least one dose, 70% are fully vaccinated and 34% have received a booster shot.