Los Angeles County’s daily Covid case count continued its recent upward trend on Wednesday, with the region tallying 1,662 new Covid cases in the past 24 hours. That’s the highest one-day count since September 7. Furthermore, the 7-day test positivity is now 5.9%, up 51% from 3.9% just before Halloween.
Last week County Director of Public Health Barbara Ferrer observed that “with recent unusually high levels of flu and other respiratory diseases, there are signs the county could be headed toward a Covid surge this fall and winter.” This week, those signs have become more clear across the board, with not just cases and test positivity up sharply, but hospitalizations — often touted as a lagging indicator — following suit.
Covid-related hospitalizations hit a recent low of 368 on October 25. In under two weeks, that tally has risen to 492 people today. That’s up 33% in just under 2 weeks and, given hospitalization increases lag case increases by about two weeks, there may be more to come. In fact, that “more” may be bigger than the current case count indicates. Even Covid-related daily deaths have ticked up from about 7 recently to 10 today.
Daily case numbers released by the county are surely an undercount of actual infections, since many residents rely on at-home tests and do not report those results to county health officials, according to the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health.
And it’s not just Covid that’s a factor. While previously in the pandemic masking had tamped down other respiratory infections, county health officials have been warning about an earlier-than-usual flu season that’s also coming on more strongly than in the past few years and RSV (respiratory syncytial virus) infections also on the rise, there is fear of a “tripledemic” which could hit the local hospital system from three sides this winter.
In Michigan, for instance, where colder weather has more greatly impacted the populace, pediatric intensive care hospital beds are now 89% full according to the Detroit Free press, citing data from the Michigan Health and Hospital Association and the state health department. Many of them are being used to care for children with RSV, which can cause severe illness and, rarely, death in those under 18. Covid is also on the rise in the state.
With an eye to that, the Los Angeles City Council today voted to extend the local declaration of emergency for Covid.