Los Angeles County set another daily record of COVID cases as health officials on Sunday reported more than 45,000 new infections.
The county recorded 45,584 new cases amid the winter surge, which has been driven by the highly contagious Omicron variant, according to figures released by the county’s Department of Public Health. The department also recorded an additional 13 deaths associated with the virus.
The updated figures arrive just days after health officials reported a then-record of 43,712 new infections, and on Saturday they said the county had tallied more than 200,000 confirmed COVID cases over the past seven days—the highest number in one week since the pandemic’s start.
The record numbers seem driven in part by increased testing. Of the nearly 115,000 people being tested each day over the last seven days, more than 20 percent of people are testing positive for the virus, the county said.
As the county enters into its third year of navigating the coronavirus, it is also nearing another unwelcome milestone: Nearly two million people have been infected with the virus since the start of the pandemic, the Los Angeles Times reports.
The public health department also reported that 3,364 people were hospitalized with COVID as of Friday. While caseloads are higher than during last winter’s peak when the county was recording about 16,000 new cases a day, health experts have stressed that fewer people are becoming severely ill from the Omicron variant.
“Our hearts remain with those families experiencing the sorrow of losing those they love to COVID,” county Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer said in a statement Saturday. “As the surge continues, we ask residents and businesses to continue following the public health safety measures that we know reduce spread and keep people safe. This includes wearing a medical grade mask that is more protective against the Omicron variant and not spending time around others who are unmasked. These upgraded masks can be a surgical mask or an N95 or KN95 respirator mask.”
The unprecedented COVID surge has led to lengthy lines at testing sites and has made it difficult to find home testing kits at local pharmacies. The increased demand for home testing kits prompted health officials to pause its home testing program as they deal with a “backlog in the logistics of processing” the kits.
The hunt for testing kits has led to resellers upping the price of some antigen tests by triple the retail price. In response, Gov. Gavin Newsom signed a protective order on Saturday to limit sellers from increasing the price by more than 10 percent of the highest price initially charged by the seller on Dec. 1, 2021.
Newsom, also on Saturday, unveiled a proposed $2.7 billion COVID emergency response package as part of his next budget proposal. The proposal also includes a $1.4 billion emergency appropriation request to boost testing capacity, accelerate vaccination and booster efforts, support frontline workers, and “battle misinformation.”
And on Friday, Newsom announced the activation of the California National Guard to help provide additional testing facilities and capacity amid the national surge in cases driven by the Omicron variant.
A new drive-thru COVID testing center opened Monday in the City of Industry at the Industry Hills Expo Center at 16200 Temple Ave. The site will feature multiple lanes with a capacity of up to 1,000 vehicles, and will offer dual COVID-19 PCR and Influenza A & B (flu virus) test results. The site will conduct testing Monday-Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. through Jan. 31. Appointments are strongly encouraged and can be made online at totaltestingsolutions.com.
City News Service contributed to this story.
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