Los Angeles County reported another 72 deaths associated with the coronavirus Saturday, along with 39,117 new positive COVID tests.
More than 250,000 COVID-19 cases have been confirmed in the county over the past seven days, down from the 291,000 cases reported for the previous seven days, according to the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health. Saturday's test positivity rate was 16.1%, a decline from 17.4% last Sunday.
Meanwhile, the number of COVID-positive patients in LA County hospitals fell for the second consecutive day, dropping from 4,792 as of Friday to 4,698. However, the number of those patients in intensive care continued its worrisome climb, increasing from 740 to 769.
The health department said residents who test positive should isolate away from others for at least five days. To exit isolation after day five, residents will need a negative COVID-19 viral test, have had no fever for at least 24 hours without the use of fever reducing medicine, and be asymptomatic or have improving symptoms.
Residents who don't meet these criteria can exit isolation after day 10, provided they have no fever for at least 24 hours without the use of fever reducing medicine and are asymptomatic or have improving symptoms.
Residents are also asked to determine and notify their close contacts of their exposure. Close contacts include individuals who were less than 6 feet away from the infected person for a cumulative total of 15 minutes or more over a 24-hour period in the 48 hours prior to the newly infected person developing symptoms or testing positive.
Additionally, residents need to wear a well-fitting surgical or higher- grade mask around others both indoors and outdoors for 10 days, even if they are leaving isolation after day five. The best masks that block COVID-19 virus particles are N95, KN95, and KF94 masks.
"We are saddened by the recent increases in those who have lost their lives and send prayers to all mourning their passing," County Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer said.
"While the small decreases in our daily cases numbers, hospitalizations and test positivity are hopeful signs that the spread of omicron is declining, we will need to remain cautious these next few weeks while transmission remains at the highest levels we have ever seen," she added. "With an average of 35,000 new cases identified each day, it is very easy for any one of us to encounter an infected person during the week. Avoiding crowds, keeping distance, wearing a high-quality mask, and washing our hands add layers of protection that can help each of us stay safe while also shielding essential workers during the surge."