Los Angeles Omicron Cases Have Tripled In One Week, Though Count Still Very Low; Hospitalizations Soaring – Deadline

Local cases of the Omicron variant of Covid officially doubled today, as Los Angeles County announced eight additional infections of the virus mutation, while Pasadena health officials verified that city’s first case.

The new cases confirmed by the county Department of Public Health brought the number of Omicron cases in that agency’s jurisdiction to 15. Less than a week ago on December 8, Los Angeles had identified just 4 cases. The first case of the new variant was discovered in L.A. on December 1.

In Britain, where the first known cases date to November 27, officials have warned of a “tidal wave” of infections associated with the variant, the number of which have been doubling every two days, they say.

“While Omicron represents over 20% of cases in England, we’ve already seen it rise to over 44% in London and we expect it to become the dominant Covid-19 variant in the capital in the next 48 hours,” U.K. Health Secretary Sajid Javid told Parliament on Monday.

The newly-identified cases offer some preliminary idea about how Angelenos are getting the variant, and how seriously its affecting them.

Of the eight new cases confirmed by the county today, seven developed symptoms but did not require hospitalization. Five of the eight were fully vaccinated, one traveled internationally and two recently traveled within the United States. Two of the eight live in the same household. Two of the new cases were also seen in residents who had previously come down with Covid, according to the L.A. Department of Public Health.

The Omicron variant was first detected in specimens collected in Botswana on or about November 11, but it has quickly spread to dozens of countries worldwide. While the variant is blamed for a spike in cases in South Africa, CDC Director Rochelle Walinsky said today that it seems to create less-severe outcomes. A survey of the cases in L.A. county seems to confirm that analysis.

Los Angeles County on Tuesday confirmed 15 more COVID-19 deaths, giving the county an overall virus-related death toll of 27,352.

Another 1,138 cases were also confirmed, raising the cumulative pandemic total to 1,549,296.

The number of people hospitalized in the county due to COVID-19 also continued a concerning upward climb. According to state figures, there were 751 people hospitalized with COVID in the county, up from 569 two weeks ago. That’s a jump of 26%. Of those patients, 184 were being treated in intensive care, down from 190 on Monday.

Rising hospitalization numbers have followed an increase in daily case numbers reported by the county since the Thanksgiving holiday — a trend reflected statewide. The state on Monday announced that Covid infection rates
across California have jumped by 47% since Thanksgiving. The increase prompted the state to issue an indoor mask mandate that will take effect tomorrow.

The mandate won’t change much in Los Angeles County, which already has an indoor mask-wearing requirement.

According to the most recent figures, 69% of Los Angeles County residents are fully vaccinated.

Of the more than 6.15 million fully vaccinated people in the county, 84,931 have tested positive, or about 1.38%. A total of 2,798 vaccinated people have been hospitalized, for a rate of 0.046%, and 537 have died, for a rate of 0.009%.

City News Service, contributed to this report.