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As COVID infections continue to decline, L.A. County approaches 26,000 deaths

A person wearing a mask is administered a COVID-19 test
L.A. County officials confirmed 1,602 new coronavirus cases Saturday and 947 current hospitalizations.
(Genaro Molina / Los Angeles Times)

Infections, hospitalizations and deaths related to COVID-19 have continued to decline in Los Angeles County.

It’s a far cry from last fall, when residents faced a new wave of coronavirus cases that led to a huge winter surge. Despite the improvements, which officials have largely pegged to vaccination rates, an imminent death milestone is a reminder that caution must still be heeded.

On Saturday, the county reported 29 new deaths related to COVID-19, including two among adults between the ages of 18 and 29. The death toll now stands at 25,999.

“I want to recognize that this is a hard time for the thousands of people who are mourning the loss of a loved one. As we mark the saddest of milestones, acknowledging the loss of just under 26,000 of our L.A. County family and friends, we extend our thoughts and prayers to all who are grieving and remain singularly focused on ending this pandemic,” L.A. County Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer said.

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Officials confirmed 1,602 new cases Saturday and 947 current hospitalizations — a decline of 17% from last week’s hospitalization numbers. The county’s weekly case rate is roughly 86 new cases per 100,000 residents.

As the numbers continue to decrease in a sign that the county escaped a possible Labor Day surge, officials still urge residents to get vaccinated and remain vigilant as the season changes.

“We typically see respiratory viruses flourish with the colder weather and when we move activities indoors. If we raise our vaccination rate, protect ourselves and others with masking, and use expanded testing to identify people who are infected early so they can isolate and their close contacts quarantine, we have a chance to avoid another winter surge like we suffered last year,” Ferrer said.

The majority of infections have occurred among unvaccinated individuals, according to the California Department of Public Health, which reported Friday that the case rate among those who are unvaccinated is eight times more than those who are inoculated.

In L.A. County, about 67.5% of residents have been partially vaccinated and 60.3% are fully vaccinated, according to a Times analysis. Those figures are slightly higher than the state’s total.


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