Younger adults running coronavirus increase in Southern California

LOS ANGELES – Southern California entered 2022 amid a rapid recovery in coronavirus cases from the omicron variant, with adults ages 18 to 49 transmitting the virus at high speed, and officials are urging the public to curtail holiday gatherings to help slow the rise.

Los Angeles County recorded more than 27,000 new cases on the last day of 2021, well above last winter’s highest average of 16,000 cases per day. Nearly 1 in 4 people being tested is positive for a coronavirus infection, officials said.

The daily number of new coronavirus cases doubles every other day. On Tuesday, 9,473 cases were reported; Wednesday, 16,510; Thursday, 20,198; and Friday 27,091. The positive test rate for the last seven-day period was 22.4%, double what it was for the week ending Christmas, when it was 11.4%.

More than 70% of coronavirus cases in Los Angeles County from December 22 to December 28 were among adults under 50. During last winter’s increase, adults in that age group accounted for 55% of coronavirus cases. Case rates per 100,000 people have increased the fastest in that age group.

The rates among the youngest adults – those 18 to 29 – are more than eight times higher than they were a month ago. And among adults in their 30s and 40s, cases are six times as high.

“A lot of people in this age group are important members of our workforce,” Los Angeles County Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer said this week.

“And it’s also people who are very likely to be out and about on recreation,” Ferrer added. “Often this age group does not experience the worst consequences of increased infection. And sometimes it has made it harder for individuals to stay aware of the need to be vigilant in complying with all public health safety measures. “

Case rates have doubled for children aged 5 to 11 and tripled for adults aged 65 to 79.

In Orange County, adults between the ages of 18 and 44 are infected with coronavirus, said Dr. Regina Chinsio-Kwong, a deputy health officer.

The state’s COVID-19 model estimates that in Southern California and the San Francisco Bay Area, each infected person transmits the virus on average to 1.5 other people – meaning that the spread of the virus increases rapidly. Rates are even higher in LA, Orange and San Francisco counties, where the figure is estimated at 1.7.

The number of cases of coronavirus is increasing among people with all vaccination statuses, but unvaccinated people are still the most likely to test positive. In the week ending Dec. 18, 375 out of every 100,000 unvaccinated residents of LA County tested positive. The rate for those who have been vaccinated but have not received a booster shot was 173 per. 100,000. The rate among boosted residents was 65 per. 100,000.

Despite the explosive infection rates, far fewer patients have been admitted with COVID-19 so far in this fifth increase than during the last two increases.

Health authorities have expressed optimism that the symptoms in cases associated with omicron are less severe than those from previous variants. This may be due in part to the fact that although omicron appears to be more contagious to the respiratory tract, it appears to be less contagious to lung tissue, with infections contributing to respiratory problems and death.

It is also likely that the severity of the disease is generally lower because so many people have been vaccinated. During last winter’s increase, very few people had been vaccinated due to limited supply.

Yet the huge increases in new cases of coronavirus health officials have worried that hospitals – especially in areas with low vaccination rates – could be hit by a hug of patients if transmission remains so high and the virus is able to find a large number of unvaccinated people. Those who have not received a single shot continue to have the greatest risk of serious COVID-19 disease.

LA County’s COVID-19 hospital admissions have increased by 72% since Dec. 23, when 850 people were admitted; the latest available inventory showed that number rose to 1,464 from Thursday. Yet that figure is one-fifth of the figure a year earlier, when LA County had 7,628 coronavirus-positive people in its hospitals. It was close to the pandemic’s record high level of 8,098 COVID-19 inpatients, registered on January 5, a time when hospital shelters were overcrowded.

Across California, 5,433 COVID-19 patients were admitted Thursday, a 48% increase from a week earlier. But again, the state’s hospital numbers were a fraction of what it was a year ago, when 20,640 people with COVID-19 were in hospitals across the country, approaching the all-time high of 21,938 recorded on January 6th.

COVID-19 hospital admissions have increased most dramatically in the past month in Southern California and the San Francisco Bay Area, where numbers have nearly doubled, and have increased significantly in the Greater Sacramento area, where the rate has increased by about 30%.

Southern California now has the worst COVID-19 hospitalization rate in the state.

For every 100,000 residents, Southern California reports 16 hospitalized COVID-19 patients; the Greater Sacramento and San Joaquin Valley areas, 14; rural California, 12; and Bay Area, 7. A rate of 5 or higher is considered relevant.

Within Southern California, Inland Empire has among the worst rates with 27 admissions per. 100,000 inhabitants in San Bernardino County and 19 in Riverside County. San Diego County has a rate of 15 per. 100,000; LA and Orange counties, 14; and Ventura County, 12.

Ferrer said all efforts should focus on keeping hospitals from being overwhelmed.

“Since most people in our hospitals with severe COVID disease are unvaccinated, those who have not yet been vaccinated or boosted should please stay away from others as much as possible to avoid becoming infected or infecting others,” she said. in a statement Friday.

The Omicron variant is thought to be two to four times as contagious as the previously dominant delta variant. Individuals who are eligible for booster shots but have not yet received them have an increased risk of infection.

“Data from South Africa and the United Kingdom show that the vaccine’s efficacy against infection for two doses of an mRNA vaccine is approximately 35%. A COVID-19 vaccine booster dose restores the vaccine’s efficacy against infection to 75%,” said the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in a statement.

Recent data in LA County has shown an increase in the number of healthcare professionals being infected with coronavirus, which is expected to “create stress in our healthcare systems,” Ferrer said.

Residents of LA County at 80 and older have “now seen the highest increase in admissions over the past two weeks” compared to other age groups, Ferrer said. In Orange County, 87% of COVID-19 inpatients are unvaccinated.

Daily numbers of new pediatric COVID-19 hospital admissions throughout LA County were zero to one in early December, and have risen to about five to seven a day recently, Ferrer said.

“This is an increase to be sure, but I would like to note it is still a relatively small overall number,” Ferrer said.

With the overall cases soaring, government and local officials have not indicated the need for new orders that close certain businesses or give people a mandate to stay home, but they have looked at strengthening the requirements of certain settings. for vaccinations or negative coronavirus tests.

On Friday, the California Department of Public Health announced a new order requiring individuals at indoor events with 500 or more attendees to show either proof of full vaccination or a recent negative test to attend. The order takes effect on 15 January. Currently, only indoor events with 1,000 or more attendees are subject to the requirement.

The state also announced a tightening of vaccination and testing requirements for people wishing to visit nursing home residents. From January 7, visitors wishing to visit indoors must be updated on their COVID-19 vaccinations, including a booster, if eligible, and provide evidence of a recent negative coronavirus test.

A visitor who has not met these requirements may still meet with nursing home residents at the facility, but must meet them outdoors and must still provide evidence of a recent negative coronavirus test.

If a resident cannot leave his room and meet with a guest outdoors, the visit may take place indoors for visitors who cannot provide vaccine confirmation or a negative test, but it may not take place in a common area or resident’s room if a roommate is present. . The order relieves guests who rush to see a patient who is in critical condition and may be imminent dying.

On Thursday, California issued new recommendations for isolating people infected with the virus, a guide that is stricter than the one made earlier this week by the CDC.

California recommends that asymptomatic, coronavirus-infected people be able to leave isolation after the fifth day after a positive test, but only if they get a negative test result.

In contrast, the CDC’s recommendations do not call for a follow-up negative test; the agency recommends that those who complete the isolation continue to wear a mask around others for another five days.

“The coming days will be extraordinarily challenging for all of us as we face extraordinarily high case numbers that reflect widespread transmission of the virus,” Ferrer said. “To ensure that people are able to work and go to school, we all need to act responsibly.”

___ © 2022 Los Angeles Times. Visit latimes.com. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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