US Los Angeles County sees 165% increase in COVID-19 cases as Delta variant spreads
Los Angeles County on Thursday reported a 165 percent increase of new COVID-19 cases over last week as the most populous US county is seeing increased circulation of the highly transmissible Delta variant.
The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health confirmed 839 new cases with 11 new related deaths, bringing the countywide count to 1,254,354 with 24,525 deaths.
Los Angeles County's daily average case rate is now 3.5 cases per 100,000 people, up from last week's rate of 1.74 cases per 100,000; daily test positivity rate is now 2.5 percent, up from last week's rate of 1.2 percent, said the department in a release.
Public health officials said they are tracking the proliferation of variants of concern and watching particularly closely for Delta variants, which are now estimated to comprise about half of US COVID-19 cases.
"The Delta variant has been the most commonly sequenced variant in L.A. County since the beginning of June, now accounting for the majority of variants of concern identified by labs," said the department, adding that the rising proportion of Delta among sequenced variants of concern is consistent with what other parts of the country are seeing.
"Given that slightly under 4 million residents in L.A. County are not yet vaccinated, the risk of increased spread remains high," said public health officials. They pointed out that the data to date suggests fully vaccinated people are well protected from severe infections with the Delta variant.
"Overall COVID-19 trends are going in the wrong direction for everyone, and are particularly concerning given the proliferation of the Delta variant," warned the county's Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer in the release.
"The most powerful way to protect those in hard-hit communities, many of whom are essential workers, is to close vaccination gaps," she said.
Among Los Angeles County residents aged 16 and over, 69 percent have received one dose of vaccine and 60 percent have been fully vaccinated, according to the department.