Los Angeles County's dramatic rise in COVID-19 infections continued Monday, with more than 3,200 new cases reported, along with seven more deaths and 60 new instances of the rapidly spreading Omicron variant. And the numbers are likely an under-reporting, due to typical weekend information delays, according to the county Department of Public Health.
The county reported 3,258 new COVID infections on Monday, the fourth day in a row the number has topped 3,000. Since the pandemic began, a total of 1,567,133 cases have been confirmed in the county.
The seven new deaths reported Monday lifted the county's cumulative death toll to 27,448.
According to state figures, there were 741 COVID-positive patients in Los Angeles County hospitals as of Monday, down from 743 on Sunday. There were 172 of those patients being treated in intensive care, down from 180 a day earlier.
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The 60 newly confirmed Omicron cases marked a major jump in the county's total, reflecting a trend being seen across the country. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported Monday that Omicron -- which was first detected in South Africa and has rapidly spread globally -- is now estimated to be responsible for 73% of COVID infections nationwide.
The county Department of Public Health reported Monday that COVID outbreaks increased dramatically in almost all sectors during the week that ended Friday -- including a 118% jump in the education sector, 83% in congregate housing facilities and 24% at worksites and churches.
However, outbreaks actually dropped by 11% at skilled nursing facilities, a statistic the county attributed to the high rate of booster shots among staff and residents. According to the county, 84% of eligible nursing facility residents in the county have received booster shots, and 50% of
“Evidence is mounting that for those vaccinated months ago, boosters are necessary to provide the best defense from infection with and transmission of the Omicron variant,'' county Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer said in a statement. ``Vaccinations also continue to provide excellent protection from the Delta variant. The widespread uptake of booster shots at skilled nursing facilities -- a result of early efforts to get booster doses to these highly vulnerable individuals as soon as they became available -- have helped keep outbreaks at lower numbers in these settings.
“This aligns with other information gathered from around the country demonstrating the power of boosters, and the importance of getting boosted as soon as possible once eligible,'' she said. ``Given the rising case numbers, the high rate of community transmission and all the evidence that, over time, our immune systems need a boost to be able to attack the COVID virus, no one eligible should delay getting their booster dose.''
According to county figures, as of Dec. 12, 77.6% of eligible county residents aged 5 and older had received at least one dose of vaccine and 69% were fully vaccinated.
More than 1.8 million booster doses have been administered in the county.
Ferrer said last week there is no evidence to suggest the Omicron variant causes more severe symptoms than previous versions, but it is more transmissible than other variants and will circulate more widely in the county -- particularly with upcoming holiday travel.