Los Angeles County is experiencing a surge in illnesses as the holiday season concludes, with individuals who gathered for holidays and then traveled back being identified as the main spreaders. The county reported over 800 coronavirus hospitalizations per day on January 2, and the highest number of cases occurred around Christmas. Although the decline in COVID-19 cases is an encouraging sign, the situation remains dynamic, and public health officials are closely monitoring the situation.
The rise in COVID-19 cases coincides with an increase in flu and RSV (respiratory syncytial virus) cases. The L.A. County Department of Public Health reported an average of 425 influenza-positive patients in the hospital per day for the week ending on December 30, nearly double the levels seen a month ago. While there is a slight decline in flu cases, it is too soon to determine if flu activity has peaked for the season.
The L.A. County Public Health Department’s Respiratory Watch, which monitors RSV cases, reported nearly 500 weekly positive cases in the last week of December. Although this number decreased to 238 for the week ending January 6, health officials are vigilantly tracking the situation. Despite the county being moved to low hospitalization admissions rate status by the CDC, a mask mandate has been reinstated for healthcare workers and visitors in healthcare settings.
California, including Los Angeles County, is categorized as having a “very high” respiratory illness level by the CDC, and the state is one of 37 in this category. Nationally, COVID-19 and RSV positivity rates have remained stable, while positive flu cases have seen a slight decrease. However, wastewater viral activity levels for COVID-19 are reported as very high across the United States, indicating ongoing challenges in managing the pandemic.