By Jo Erlinda Maufit
GENEVA/LOS ANGELES – Globally, the number of weekly COVID-19 cases has increased for the third consecutive week, after a declining trend was observed since the last peak in March 2022, the World Health Organization reported.
During the week of 20 to 26 June 2022, over 4.1 million cases were reported, an 18% increase as compared to the previous week, WHO said in a statement.
The number of new weekly deaths remained similar to that of the previous week, with over 8500 fatalities reported, it added.
Omicron continues to be the dominant variant, accounting for 100% of the sequenced specimens this week and in recent past weeks. To date, we have detected a total of 167 positive, sequenced specimens of these two subvariants – 86 of BA.4 and 81 of BA.5. For the week ending June 4, these two subvariants combined accounted for 9.1 % of positive specimens, an increase over the 6.5% from the week prior, and 4.6% from the week before that.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that across the country, for the week of June 18, the BA.4 and BA.5 subvariants of Omicron combined accounted for just under 35% of specimens, a large increase from under 5% from a month ago. BA.4 and BA.5 continue to appear to be able to outcompete the BA.2 subvariant and its sublineages.
These BA.4 and BA.5 subvariants of Omicron are of special concern because of their apparent ability to cause re-infections in people who were infected with other Omicron subvariants.
The number of daily new cases remains high but has stabilized. Over the last seven days, the average number of daily new cases reported was 4,960, a small increase from two weeks ago when the average number of daily new cases reported was 4,788. Additionally, the 7-day average daily case rate has also stabilized over the last two weeks with 48 new cases per 100,000 people.
Despite these metrics stabilizing, the test positivity rate has now increased to 12.2%, nearly double from two weeks ago when the test positivity rate was 6.5%. This increase likely reflects the decrease in the volume of routine screening testing now that the school year has ended, meaning that a greater proportion of testing is among individuals with symptoms and/or exposures.
After weeks of high case numbers fueled by the highly infectious variants and sublineages, the number of people severely ill and needing to be hospitalized is increasing. Over the last seven days, the average number of COVID-positive patients per day in LA County hospitals was 741, a 27% increase from two weeks ago when the average number of COVID-positive patients per day was 583.
Deaths, which typically lag hospitalizations by several weeks are remaining low and stable with an average of eight deaths reported per day this past week.
“I send my deepest sympathies and wishes of peace and comfort to the many families who have lost a loved one from COVID-19,” said Barbara Ferrer, PhD, MPH, MEd, Director of Public Health. “As many residents are making plans to enjoy travel and celebrations for the long Fourth of July weekend, there are several sensible safety measures we can take to enjoy this holiday. One of the most important steps we can take to slow the spread of the disease is to make sure the entire household is vaccinated or boosted, if eligible, including the youngest children who can now get the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna vaccine if they are at least 6 months old. Residents can also reduce the chance of getting or spreading COVID-19 by wearing a mask and doing an at-home test before indoor gatherings and events. If someone does test positive or feel sick, they should stay away from others to prevent infecting others. As we celebrate this weekend, let’s make an effort to take actions that protect our friends, family members, and co-workers who may be at elevated risk.”
Today, Public Health reported nine additional deaths and 3,671 new positive cases. Of the nine new deaths reported today, one person was between the ages of 30-49, one person was between the ages of 50-64, two people were between the ages of 65-79, and four people were aged 80 years or older. For information on the one death reported by the City of Long Beach, visit longbeach.gov. Of the nine newly reported deaths, seven had underlying health conditions. To date, the total number of deaths in L.A. County is 32,316.
Public Health has reported a total of 3,105,867 positive cases of COVID-19 across all areas of L.A. County. Today’s positivity rate is 12.2%.
There are 807 people with COVID-19 currently hospitalized. Testing results are available for more than 12,167,390 individuals, with 23% of people testing positive. (Jo Erlinda Maufitemail@example.com)