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Coronavirus Levels Rising in Los Angeles County


December 24, 2023

Health officials are urging people to exercise during upcoming holiday celebrations, with coronavirus transmission once again on the rise across Los Angeles County.

Pasadena Public Health Department’s COVID dashboard showed 2 new cases recorded on December 3 but 20 new cases confirmed on December 20. Pasadena’s 7-day average number of new cases rose from to 6.3 on December 1, to 10.9 on December 21.

The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health this week reported a daily average of 495 cases of the coronavirus, an 80% increase from the daily average of recorded COVID-19 cases about a month ago on Nov. 22.

The department said those numbers represent an undercount due to the number of home-test results not reported.

The county has also seen a significant rise in SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, in wastewater concentrations, which is considered an indication that the rate of transmission is likely to continue rising in the near future. This week, the health department reported wastewater concentrations that are 39% of last year’s winter peak and triple the levels reported one month ago.

The number of people in Los Angeles County dying from COVID complications is also rising, with daily average deaths at 3.6 as of Dec. 20, up from 1.6 a month ago.

The number of people hospitalized with COVID-10 is also on the upswing.

There were 632 COVID-positive patients at LA County hospitals in the latest data provided by the state health department as of Dec. 16. That’s up from 259 on Nov. 1, but lower than at this time last year, when the number was over 1,200.

Orange County’s total was 114 at latest count, after dropping as low as 56 in early November.

Statewide, there are 1,905 COVID-positive patients in the hospital, up from 1,155 on Nov. 1, but down from over 4,600 at the end of last year.

Some of those patients were admitted for other reasons and discovered they had COVID after being tested at the hospitals.

“It is possible that at least part of the local increase in transmission is driven by new COVID-19 strains gaining dominance in Los Angeles County, including JN.1, a newly emerging strain descended from BA.2.86, an Omicron lineage,” the department said. “For specimens collected during the two-week period ending Nov. 25, the most recent data currently available, JN.1 accounted for 10 percent of sequenced specimens, a rapid increase from late October when the strain was first detected in Los Angeles County and accounted for only 1 percent of sequenced specimens.”

JN.1 does not, however, appear to be resulting in more severe cases of COVID-19, officials said.

To protect against COVID-19 and other respiratory viruses circulating this holiday season, health experts recommend the following common-sense precautions:

Wash hands often or use hand sanitizer, especially before eating, after sneezing or coughing, or when in public places.

Consider wearing a well-fitted, high-quality mask in crowded indoor spaces, travel hubs or poorly ventilated spaces.

Stay home if you have any symptoms of illness, including coughing, sneezing, a fever or sore throat, and consider talking with friends and family so they know to be cautious about gathering if they show signs of infection.