USA

L.A. County coronavirus numbers show continued decline in hospitalizations

Los Angeles County saw a continued decline in the number of people with serious cases of COVID-19 this weekend, with fewer than 700 patients hospitalized on Sunday. There were three times as many COVID-19 hospitalizations during the summer surge.

The reduction in the most serious cases came as the county reported 815 new cases overall and 10 deaths for the day. These are declines from past highs, but the lower numbers may reflect a lag in weekend reporting, the county said.

There were 692 people hospitalized with COVID-19 on Sunday, compared with 1,100 in late August and more than 2,200 in mid-July.

Hospitalizations, like new cases and deaths, are considered a key indicator of how well counties are handling the spread of the coronavirus and how much demand the pandemic is putting on local healthcare systems.

Since the pandemic began, officials have kept a close eye on hospitalizations, fearful that unchecked community spread of the virus would lead to more cases than hospitals could handle. More recently, officials were worried that gatherings over the Labor Day weekend would trigger a spike, but they said Saturday that the holiday surge had not materialized.

“I’m grateful that so many people are doing their part to protect their fellow neighbors, workers and family members from COVID-19, and it is clear that the actions people are taking have reduced the number of people hospitalized and dying,” Barbara Ferrer, director of the Los Angeles County Public Health department, said in a statement.

Ferrer said the latest data are being considered as county officials weigh “additional reopenings.”

The county trend comes amid broader declines in hospitalizations statewide — but little optimism that the improvements will hold. State officials said Friday that they expect to see an 89% increase in COVID-19 hospitalizations over the next month. Many regions in the state have seen increases in the rate of cases per 100,000 residents, and emergency room visits were up last week across the state.

Dr. Mark Ghaly, the state’s health and human services secretary, said California has hospital capacity for new patients, but officials are concerned about COVID-19 hospitalizations rising just as flu season — a perennial killer — gets underway.

“We’ve never done COVID hospitalizations with flu hospitalizations,” Ghaly said.

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