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Omicron may have peaked, but hospitalizations increase

by Steven Felschundneff | steven@claremont-courier.com

In the same week that California hit a significant milestone in cumulative COVID-19 cases, several hopeful signs emerged that the current outbreak has peaked.

On Wednesday the Los Angeles Times reported the state had reached 7 million cases, the result of the largest and fastest spreading outbreak during the pandemic, fueled by the hyper-infectious Omicron variant. That same day, data collected by the Washington Post indicated that the seven-day average of new cases nationwide had fallen 3% over the last week while hospitalizations were up and deaths had risen by 6%.

It’s not surprising that as cases fall hospitalizations and deaths continue to rise as that has been the case with previous surges during the pandemic. Locally both the seven-day average of new hospitalizations and the number of patients who were transferred to intensive care units increased over the past week, according to the Los Angels County Department of Public Health.

“New daily admissions increased by 9.5% to a total of 644 patients, up from 588 patients the week of January 11. Additionally, 31% of COVID confirmed patients were in the ICU, and 27% were requiring ventilation,” health officials said in a statement on Wednesday.

Los Angeles County is now witnessing an increase in COVID-19 deaths with total mortality exceeding 28,000 over the weekend.

Omicron had appeared less deadly with daily totals barely cresting 20, but last Wednesday that changed when the county recorded 39 deaths, followed by 45 on Thursday, 48 on Friday, 66 on Saturday and 53 on Sunday. The most recent report from the county continued the grim trend with 59 deaths recorded Wednesday, bringing the total mortality to 28,181.

Among Wednesday’s deaths, one person was between the ages of 18 and 29, two were 30 to 49, 11 were 50 to 64, 30 were 65 to 79 and 15 were over the age of 80. Of the newly reported deaths, 51 people had underlying conditions.

Following a week during which the county recorded 40,000 cases per day every day, for the last three days the case count has been significantly lower with 31,576 new infections reported on Monday, followed by 22,688 on Tuesday and 30,081 on Wednesday. Public Health has identified 2,343,821 cumulative cases of COVID-19 across all areas of L.A. County.

Meanwhile the positivity rate continues to decline from a high around 22% two weeks ago to 16.9% Wednesday.

“With Omicron leading to increasing hospitalizations and ICU admissions, vaccines continue to provide the best protection against severe illness. Between December 30, 2021, and January 12, 2022, the ICU rate ratio was 6.4 when comparing those unvaccinated versus those fully vaccinated without boosters, meaning unvaccinated people were 6 times more likely to be admitted to the ICU compared to those fully vaccinated without boosters,” health official said.

The county is now reporting 4,977 cumulative cases in Claremont, and 532 new infections in the last week. Fortunately, there have been no new deaths in the city for a few weeks with total mortality staying at 71.

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