Covid-19’s more contagious BA.2 variant continues to grow rapidly in Los Angeles County. As of March 12, the last date for which data is available, 32% of the local positive covid tests that were laboratory sequencing were confirmed to be BA.2 results.
In the week ending March 5, 16.7% of Sequined Cases BA.2 were found, which means that the share of new case variants has almost doubled in just 7 days. In the last week of February, BA.2 accounted for 6.3% of new cases, which means that the share of infection variants more than doubled the previous week.
Given the continued rapid spread of BA.2 in other regions where it has already taken root – such as the United Kingdom, South Africa, Singapore, India and the Northeastern United States – it is likely to increase within 2 weeks after the new numbers increase. Be influential in LA as well.
In fact, this week’s CDC data map shows that in the case of the three state territories, comprising California, Nevada and Arizona. See graphic below.
The spread of the high-infectious variant, however, has not yet translated into the overall increase in virus-related hospital admissions among U.S. health officials, which is probably responsible for a relatively large number of Americans who have now been vaccinated.
As of Sunday, only 3% of visits to the county hospital’s emergency department are covid-related, LA Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer said today. It’s a long, long way from the bad old days at the end of 2021.
“We are beginning to see that despite the increase in BA.2, they are still not being the result of increased visits to the Covid-19 emergency department,” he said.
The county, however, is seeing a flattening decline in the number of cases identified over the past few weeks, with the county now averaging about 660 cases per day.
“The fall rate has slowed, and we don’t see any declines in the case this week,” Ferrer said.
He added that it was too early to call this leveling a “concern”, but he called it “significant”.
“At some point we knew we were probably going to stop the fall,” Ferrer said. “We know there are still infections … Personally, I hope we were at a lower level when we were working on this plateau, but we’ve seen a significant reduction and that’s good news.”
He further noted that the slowdown in the fall could be related to the recent lifting of covid-related restrictions such as the lifting of indoor masking requirements. On Friday, the county, along with the state, will raise the need for vaccination and negative test verification at indoor mega events, such as sporting events and concerts.
“Every time we’ve lowered the necessary restrictions or protection levels, we’ve always seen an increase (in the case),” Ferrer observed. “The slowdown in the fall can be seen as an optic in some ways.”
On Thursday, the county reported 784 new covid cases, with 16 additional viral deaths.
The average daily rate of people tested positive for the virus as of Thursday was 1.1%, up from a constant 0.7% rate in the past few weeks. Wednesday’s rate was 0.9%.
The number of covid-positive patients at the county hospital dropped from 325 on Wednesday to 308 on Thursday. The number of patients treated in intensive care was 47, down from 51 a day earlier.
According to county statistics, 71% of all county residents were fully vaccinated. However, only 31% of children 5-11 years of age have been fully vaccinated, the lowest rate at any age.
City News Service contributed to this report.