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Highly contagious strains drive new COVID surge

by Steven Felschundneff | steven@claremont-courier.com

As most have likely heard, Los Angeles County is in the middle of yet another surge of COVID-19 cases.

On Wednesday, the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health reported an alarming 4,879 new infections, but more troubling, the positivity rate has now reached 16.5% after bottoming out at 1% in the spring.

The surge is being driven by the two new “super infectious” strains of the Omicron variant, BA4 and BA5, which health officials warn can easily reinfect those who have already had the virus.

Hospitalizations are also creeping up, with 920 people currently in area hospitals due to COVID, though officials maintain these institutions are not overwhelmed at this time.

“Currently, the county remains at the CDC designated COVID-19 Medium Community Level,” public health officials said in a statement. “However, there are increasing concerns about the impact of new Omicron sub-variants on transmission and hospitalizations that could result in the county moving into the High Community Level designation sometime later this summer.”

If the county moves into the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s designated high community level of transmission and remains there for two weeks, the health department will reissue a mandatory indoor masking requirement for people over the age of two.

“The first of two hospital metrics in the CDC Community Levels Framework is the seven-day total of new hospital admissions per 100,000, which rose this past week to 8.1 admissions per 100,000 people,” according to county public health. “This is a 56% increase compared to one month ago. The second hospital metric, the seven-day average for the proportion of staffed inpatient beds occupied by COVID-19 patients, also increased this past week to 4.2%.”

Health officials have said predicting the hospitalization rate remains tricky, and that it could level off or decline. After decreasing last week, the hospitalization rate spiked this week, rising from 791 last Friday to 920 Wednesday.

Because the hospitalization rate is a lagging indicator, it’s important to track other metrics, including the positivity rate, which is also climbed 3.5% in one week.

In Claremont, cumulative cases have reached 8,114, which have tragically resulted in 92 deaths.

The city has reached a full vaccination rate of 72.4%. The percentage of eligible residents with at least one shot stands at 79.2%.

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