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L.A. County sets another daily record with more than 45,000 coronavirus cases

A car drives up to a sign that says "Grab and go COVID test kits"
The Los Angeles Unified School District distributes free coronavirus test kits to families before students return to classes at Johnnie L. Cochran Jr. Middle School on Friday.
(Irfan Khan/Los Angeles Times)

Los Angeles County reached another daily record of coronavirus cases as health officials on Sunday reported more than 45,000 new infections.

The county recorded 45,584 new cases amid the surge in infections driven by the highly contagious Omicron variant of the coronavirus, according to figures released by the county’s Department of Public Health. The department also reported 13 new deaths, bringing the county’s total number of deaths to 27,785 since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The updated numbers from the county underscored anew how the spread of the virus has exploded with the arrival of the Omicron variant. With an average of nearly 115,000 people being tested each day over the last seven days, more than 20% of people are testing positive for the virus, the county said. On Saturday, officials said the county had tallied more than 200,000 new cases over the previous seven days — the highest one-week total of the pandemic.

And as L.A. County enters its third year living with COVID-19, it is nearing another unwelcomed milestone: Nearly 2 million people have been infected with the virus since the pandemic’s start.

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The public health department on Sunday also reported 3,364 people hospitalized with COVID-19 as of Friday. Experts have stressed that although caseloads are higher than during last winter’s peak, when L.A. County was recording about 16,000 new cases a day, 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.”

And the rise of Omicron has led to other stress points. Long lines have become the norm at swamped testing sites around the county, while the hunt for home testing kits has sent people driving fruitlessly from one pharmacy to another.

The increased demand for testing prompted L.A. County health officials to pause its home testing program as they deal with a “backlog in the logistics of processing these kits.”

Some at-home antigen tests are reselling for triple the retail price. To help curb price gougers, Gov. Gavin Newsom signed an executive order Saturday to protect buyers.

Under the order, sellers cannot increase prices on at-home coronavirus test kits by more than 10% of the highest price initially charged by the seller on Dec. 1, 2021. The order also prohibits sellers who haven’t previously sold at-home test kits to set a price greater than 50% of what they paid for the test kit.

It also provides additional tools for agencies such as the California Department of Justice and local law enforcement to take action against price gougers. A violation of this order can result in a fine of up to $1,000, imprisonment for up to six months, or both. The violation could also trigger an infringement of the Unfair Competition Law, which could lead to more penalties.

California Atty. Gen. Rob Bonta announced those who’ve been a victim of price gouging should file a complaint to his office at oag.ca.gov/report or contact their local law enforcement agency.

“Californians are doing their part to confront this challenge — whether by caring for loved ones, getting vaccinated, or working on the front lines — and they shouldn’t have to worry about being cheated while dealing with the effects of coronavirus,” Bonta said in a statement.


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