New coronavirus cases reach nearly 9,000 in L.A. County as Omicron surge continues

Masked people wait outside LAX.
Passengers wait for shuttles at Los Angeles International Airport last week.
(Gary Coronado / Los Angeles Times)

Los Angeles County on Sunday reported nearly 9,000 new coronavirus cases and seven related deaths — marking a continued wave of infections propelled by the highly contagious Omicron variant that recently spurred officials to expand testing options and that has upended a second year of holiday plans for many families.

L.A. County announced 8,891 new cases Sunday compared with 11,930 on Saturday, but officials cautioned that the latest figures might not be complete because of reporting delays over the holiday and weekend. The newest figure represents a significant increase from the case count early last week, when officials on Monday reported 3,258 new cases.

Officials have repeatedly urged caution in recent days, encouraging people to scale back holiday plans, test before gathering with family and, above all, to continue to rely on the best tools available: vaccines, boosters and masks.

Even with 67% of Californians fully vaccinated, officials have warned about breakthrough cases of vaccinated people getting infected with the Omicron variant, now the dominant strain of the virus.

Testing creates another layer of protection, and county health officials recently relaunched an at-home test collection program that allows residents who have COVID-19 symptoms and those who believe they have been exposed to the virus to request a nasal test swab kit that will be delivered within two days.

The uptick in infections is happening across much of the state and nation.

California has averaged more than 11,900 new cases over the past week, an increase of nearly 73% compared to two weeks ago, and more than 3,700 people are currently hospitalized with a confirmed case of COVID-19 statewide, a nearly 10% increase from two weeks ago, according to The Times’ hospitalization tracker. In L.A. County, officials said that 849 people are currently hospitalized.

An estimated 5.1 million Californians have recovered from COVID-19 or are no longer infectious, according to a common statistical method applied by The Times. Roughly 120,000 cases remain active.