The death toll of COVID-related cases has surpassed 80,000, a figure that will inevitably continue to rise as the state faces an Omricron surge this winter.
Despite the milder nature of symptoms resulting from the Omricron variant, officials have still cautioned that a spike in cases would subsequently lead to more illness and death amongst the affected public.
Just after the holiday season—where a reported 3.5 million travelers were expected to pass through LAX in its busiest period—the city reported 102 deaths, 90 percent of which became ill after the holiday and 80 percent after New Year’s Day, indicating a surge in Omricron variant, Los Angeles County Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer said.
“Omicron is milder than Delta and than some of the ancestral strains,” Ferrer said. “But let’s not fool ourselves that this is inconsequential illness because, for many people, it’s not.”
Just over the past week, California has reported an average of 176 COVID-related deaths per day. The cumulative reported death toll of 80,022 is now roughly equivalent to the combined population of Koreatown and Westlake.
The recent fatalities suggest a correlation with the recent rise of Omricon, but as Dr. George Rutherford, an epidemiologist and infectious disease expert at UC San Francisco says, “Some of the mortality we may still be seeing could be from Delta…Don’t rule that out.”
According to Ferrer, 24,497 Angelenos have died from COVID between March 1, 2020, and Dec. 31, 2021. In comparison, the county’s normal leading cause of death, coronary heart disease, resulted in 21,513 deaths during that period.
“While vaccines and therapeutics offer powerful protection against death, even our recent numbers continue to highlight how, in comparison to other respiratory illnesses, COVID remains more deadly,” Ferrer reported Thursday.
Hospitalizations have witnessed a decline, as 12,134 people infected by coronavirus were hospitalized Thursday. This represents a decrease of 21 percent from a peak of 15,435 on Jan. 21.
Despite a recent Harvard and MIT study that stated 20 percent of people won’t have a good immune response to COVID—even with the booster—vaccination is still the safest route.
“COVID has led to inconceivable illness and death,” Ferrer said. “And increasing vaccination and booster rates offers the best hope for reducing the most tragic outcome from COVID infection.”
According to recent data, unvaccinated Californians are three times more likely to get COVID than those vaccinated, and 7.5 times more prone to infection than those with a booster dose.
In addition to this, those who are unvaccinated are 15 more times likely to be hospitalized and 30 times more likely to die from COVID than those who are vaccinated and boosted.
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