The number of COVID-positive hospital patients in Los Angeles County rose by 13 people to 241, according to the latest state figures out Saturday.
Of those patients, 34 were in intensive care, up three from Friday’s total.
Hospital numbers have remained relatively low in the county, despite steadily rising COVID infection rates caused by the infectious BA.2 subvariant of COVID-19. County Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer said Thursday that the county is averaging more than 1,000 new COVID cases per day, up from an average of 878 the previous week.
Some patients likely entered the hospital for other reasons and discovered they were COVID-positive after a mandated test.
The county reported 1,355 new cases on Friday, along with 13 virus-related deaths, lifting its totals to 2,850,480 cases and 31,852 deaths since the pandemic began.
The county health department does not report COVID data on weekends.
The BA.2 subvariant, a more infectious offshoot of the Omicron variant that caused a winter surge in cases, is now the dominant strain of the virus in the county, believed to represent 67% of new infections.
While the rising case numbers haven’t yet translated to a spike in hospitalizations and deaths, health officials continued Friday to press for more people to get vaccinated or to receive booster shots — warning that the more the virus spreads, the higher the risk it could mutate into a more dangerous form.
“The emergence of the BA.2 subvariant is an important reminder that the more infections we have, the more chances there are for new variants to emerge, which is another reason why it remains important to take safety precautions,” Ferrer said in a statement.
“We should all try our best to lower the risk to ourselves, family members, neighbors, and communities from COVID-19. This is especially critical if you’re at increased risk for severe illness. Those with higher levels of risk should take more precautions, including considering always wearing a mask in indoor public settings, being strategic about attending indoor gatherings or events, especially if you don’t know other people’s vaccination status, getting tested before and after gatherings, and getting vaccinated or boosted if you haven’t done so already.”
Rising along with daily case numbers is the average daily rate of people testing positive for the virus. That rate had been holding steady below 1%, but it rose to 1.7% on Thursday and hit 2.4% Friday. The rate is still low overall, but roughly triple the rate it was two weeks ago.