Barbara Ferrer characterized the rise as “one of the steepest rises we’ve ever seen over the course of the pandemic.”
That does not bode well for early 2022.
“If our case numbers continue to increase at a rapid pace over the course of this week and next,” she said, “we could be looking at case numbers we have never seen, over 20,000.”
The highest daily case tally of the entire pandemic was recorded on January 4, at 21,849, according to the L.A. County Covid data dashboard. If Ferrer’s warning holds, that same day in early 2022 could mark a new record.
With just 748 Covid patients hospitalized today, the county is far below the record 8,000 pandemic-related daily hospitalizations seen on January 4, 2020. But, says Ferrer, given the rapid rise in cases, that can change quickly given that hospitalizations generally trail cases by about two weeks.
“If Omicron causes less severe illness, but infects many more people,” said Ferrer, “let’s say 3% of people require hospitalization but we end up with 20,000 daily cases. That number could still cause severe stress on our healthcare system.”
The 7-day average test positivity rate, which is one of the best indications of infection spread, has risen 136% from 1.9% on Thursday to 4.5% today.
Ferrer noted that there were over 2 million eligible L.A. County residents who have not received a single vaccine dose. Those people, even if they have already had Covid she said, are five times more likely to be reinfected than those who have been vaccinated and boosted.
Asked about further measures to decrease spread, she said “We’re gonna see high cases no matter what. But we may be able to manage these case numbers in a way that doesn’t stress our health care system.”
But with cases rising at a “staggering rate,” according to Ferrer, and “with a variant such as Omicron and potentially other variants, every single option needs to be on the table.”
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