The number of COVID-positive patients in Los Angeles County hospitals has surpassed 800, after falling as low as 209 in April, according to the latest state figures out Tuesday.
The state hadn't updated its hospitalization totals since Saturday, when there were 762 COVID-positive patients in county hospitals, with 76 of them being treated in intensive care. The latest numbers showed 807 COVID-positive patients, with 68 in an ICU.
Los Angeles County Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer recently reported that about 60% of COVID-positive patients were actually admitted for other reasons before testing positive for the virus. But she noted that regardless of their reason for admission, being COVID-positive means they require increased infection-control measures at hospitals.
On Monday, county health officials reported more than 13,700 new COVID-19 cases from the previous three days, along with 19 new deaths associated with the virus. The county, which no longer reports COVID numbers over the weekend, reported 5,852 infections from Saturday, 4,761 from Sunday and 3,110 for Monday.
The new cases gave the county a cumulative total from throughout the pandemic of 3,102,110, while the 19 fatalities lifted the county's virus-related death toll to 32,308.
Dr. Paul Simon, chief science officer at the county Department of Public Health, said last week the rate of increase in COVID-positive patients had begun to diminish, pushing back the estimate of when an indoor mask-wearing mandate might be re-imposed.
As of last Thursday, the current seven-day average of daily new hospital admissions of people with the virus was 84, only a small bump from 83 the previous week.
The rate of hospital admissions for the past week was 7.3 per 100,000 residents. That was the same rate as the previous week, ending a steady trend of increases that has raised the possibility of a new universal indoor mask mandate in the county.
Under metrics set by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the county would move from the "medium'' category of virus activity to the "high'' level if the rate of new hospital admissions reaches 10 per 100,000 residents. If the county reaches the high level and stays there for two weeks, a new indoor mask mandate will be imposed.
County health officials previously projected that at the previous rate of increase, the county would reach the "high'' category by the end of the June, or early July. But with the pace now slowing, Simon said the current projection is that the county won't reach the "high'' category until at least mid-July.
He noted that the county could avoid reaching that level at all if transmission of the virus begins to slow, leading to an anticipated drop in hospitalizations.
The average daily rate of people testing positive for the virus was 10.9% as of Monday, roughly the same as it has been for the past week.