Death toll tops 100, but daily cases continue to slow down – Daily Breeze

Los Angeles County reported another 101 COVID-19-related deaths on Friday, Jan. 28, one of the highest daily numbers of the past year — and the result of a winter surge in infections that drove up hospitalizations.

The fatalities gave the county an overall pandemic death toll of 28,816.

Another 23,796 infections were also reported Friday, raising the cumulative total from throughout the pandemic to 2,610,385.

As of Friday, there were 4,192 COVID-positive patients in Los Angeles County hospitals, according to state figures. That was down from 4,323 on Thursday. The number of those patients being treated in intensive care rose to 766, up from 746 on Thursday.

The county’s rolling average rate of people testing positive for the virus continued to fall, reaching 11.6% as of Friday, down from 12.7% a day earlier.

“As we turn the corner on this surge, let’s continue to stay focused on protecting our workforce,” county Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer said in a statement. “Doing so helps reduce staff shortages, spread among family members, strain on our healthcare system, and economic distress often among those least resourced. Each of us can do our part by getting vaccinated and boosted, wearing a well-fitting medical mask or respirator indoors or when in a crowded outdoor setting, staying home if sick, getting tested, and notifying close contacts of potential exposure when experiencing COVID-19 symptoms.”

The county has been experiencing downward trends in the daily case rate and testing-positivity rate over the past two weeks. Hospital numbers have been also falling, but the number of daily deaths has remained relatively high — following the normal pattern of rising in the weeks after increases in hospitalizations.

Jacob Hightower, 12, is tested for COVID-19 at Total Testing Solution’s drive-up testing site at the YMCA of West San Gabriel Valley in Alhambra on Tuesday, January 25, 2022. (Photo by Sarah Reingewirtz, Los Angeles Daily News/SCNG)

Health officials have continued to preach caution despite the lowering COVID trends, warning that as long as the virus continues to spread, new and more easily transmitted variants of the virus can arise, much like the recent delta and omicron variants.

Ferrer confirmed Thursday that the county has already identified four cases of a sub-variant of omicron, known as BA.2, which has spread rapidly in some countries, most notably Denmark. She said it’s still too early to know exactly how much of a threat the strain presents.

“We don’t yet know how BA.2 might be different than other omicron lineages, and scientists will be working rapidly in the coming weeks to learn more about immune evasion, severity and transmissibility,” Ferrer said Thursday. “In places that have already passed their peak of omicron cases, it does appear that BA.2 is causing a new surge. In places at their peak of the omicron surge that have significant BA.2 prevalence, it doesn’t appear that BA.2 is behaving dramatically different than other omicron lineages. And compared with other omicron lineages, BA.2 does not really have many unique mutations that would be impacting the part of the virus that’s targeted by our immune system.”

She said the emergence of the strain should serve as a reminder for people to keep wearing masks and to get vaccinated and boosted.

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