The number of coronavirus patients in Los Angeles County hospitals increased by 20 people on Saturday to 658, while the number of those patients in intensive care ticked up from 180 to 182, according to state figures.
The county's number of COVID patients has fluctuated in recent days after weeks of steady decline, rising for three straight days, then dropping for two straight days before Saturday's increase.
Local health officials reported 1,229 new cases of COVID-19 and 24 additional deaths related to the virus Friday, bringing the county's cumulative totals to 1,475,69 cases and 26,395 deaths since the pandemic began.
The rolling average daily rate of people testing positive for the virus remained low, at 1%, according to the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health.
County health officials are gearing up to offer more COVID-19 vaccine booster shots, with federal approval moving closer for additional doses of the Johnson & Johnson and Moderna vaccinations.
A U.S. Food and Drug Administration advisory panel on Friday recommended booster doses of the J&J vaccine for adults, administered at least two months after receiving the initial shot. The panel on Thursday recommended boosters of the Moderna vaccine, given at least six months after a person received the second of the two-dose regimen.
Department of Public Health officials have insisted the county is well-equipped to begin administering booster doses once they receive final federal approval, although they continued to stress the need for unvaccinated people to come in for their first dose.
"We can expect all COVID-19 vaccines available in the country to have a booster option in the near future," Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer said Friday. "In the near future, we expect that millions more LA County residents will qualify for a booster."
"For those who are older, have underlying health conditions, or high risk of exposure at a worksite, please plan to get your booster once you are eligible," she said. "This will allow your immune system to mount a more effective response to the virus. As we prepare for colder weather and the holidays, getting a first, second or third dose of a COVID vaccine should be very high on our to do list."
Ferrer on Thursday continued to lament the slow pace of people getting vaccinated, saying only about 41,000 first doses were administered across the county during the week that ended Sunday. She said the "the single thing that we need to do as a community to reduce our risk of another surge is we need to decrease our numbers of unvaccinated people."
According to Ferrer, 79% of eligible county residents aged 12 and over have received at least one dose of vaccine, and 70% are fully vaccinated. Among the overall 10.3 million population, including those ineligible for shots, 68% have received at least one dose, and 60% are fully vaccinated.