Medical professionals recommend that eligible children should given both the flu and COVID-19 vaccinations. (Courtesy photo)

The number of COVID-positive patients in Los Angeles County hospitals has plunged below 3,000, falling to 2,841, according to the latest state numbers. 


Along with that decrease of 171 patients from the previous day, the
number of COVID patients in intensive care also fell again, dropping by 17
people to 599. 


Hospitalization numbers have been declining steadily since reaching
over 4,800 in mid-January. The death toll from this winter’s Omicron-fueled
surge remains high, however. The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health reported 65 additional deaths associated with COVID-19 on Sunday, and 7,017 new positive COVID tests. Officials said those numbers likely reflect reporting delays over the weekend. 

The department reported 84 COVID-related deaths on Saturday, and 85 on


Sunday’s figures brought the county’s totals to 2,727,159 cases and
29,428 deaths since the pandemic began. 


The seven-day average rate of people testing positive for the virus
continued to fall, reaching 5%, down from 5.4% Saturday, 5.9% Friday and 6.4% Thursday, according to the health department. 


Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer said Friday that if the county
wants to end the winter surge of COVID infections, “we’ll need to continue the
common-sense protective measures that we know can slow COVID-19 transmission.

“These include wearing a mask when around others until transmission
is lower; testing, if possible, before gathering with others, especially if you’re gathering with people at high risk, including unvaccinated, or indoors or in a crowded outdoor place where masks are not always worn, and after being
exposed to a positive case; staying home and away from others if you are sick
or test positive; and getting vaccinated and boosted if you’re not already up
to date,” she said. 

Her comments came at the end of a week that saw questions raised about
the effectiveness of the county’s mask-wearing mandate, prompted by photos
of football fans at SoFi Stadium largely ignoring the requirement.

County Supervisor Kathryn Barger said the lax adherence to the mandate
should lead to a reevaluation of whether it should remain in effect. But
Board of Supervisors Chair Holly Mitchell said the rule will stay in place
until transmission rates fall to a safer level.

Ferrer on Thursday unveiled metrics for a possible relaxing of masking
orders, saying the mandate will be dropped at outdoor “mega-events” and
outdoors at schools and child-care centers if COVID-positive hospitalizations
in the county fall below 2,500 for seven consecutive days.

As of Thursday, Ferrer said 82% of eligible county residents aged 5
and older have received at least one dose of vaccine, while 73% are fully
vaccinated and 34% are vaccinated and boosted. Among all 10.3 million
residents, 77% have at least one dose, 69% are fully vaccinated and 32% are
vaccinated with a booster shot.

Figures showed that children between 5 and 11 still have the lowest
vaccine rates, with just 32% having received one dose and 23% fully vaccinated.

Ferrer noted that during the month of January, children aged 5 to 11
represented 15% of all COVID cases in the county, despite making up just 9% of the population. Teens aged 12 to 17 accounted for 13% of all cases, while
representing just 7% of the population.

“Children do get infected with COVID-19,” she said.