Concerns Rise About “Fifth Wave” Of Covid In Los Angeles As Cases, Positivity Rates Continue To Increase

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“It’s troubling to continue to see a slight uptick in cases and now, obviously, no decline in our hospitalizations,” said Los Angeles County Department of Public health Director Barbara Ferrer today. “I think it’s too soon to say whether we’re in a fifth wave or not. We’re hoping at best it’s a small bump up and nothing near like last winter.” Ferrer said avoiding such a surge “takes all of us.”

Last week, Covid test positivity rates and virus-related hospitalizations rose in Los Angeles and California for the first time in months. In Los Angeles on Thursday, Ferrer reported that test positivity had risen to 1.2% from a low of 0.7% on October 18. That may not seem like much, but it’s a 71% rise over 10 days in a measure that’s a 7-day average, which smooths out daily bumps.

Today, the number of new cases in Los Angeles County rose to 1,829. Ferrer said that number of new cases includes nearly 400 test results that were backlogged from a single large testing lab. The county reported a similar backlog yesterday when it announced 1,605 new cases. The number of new cases last week ranged between about 450 and 1,000, so even subtracting 400 each of the past two days, daily cases are up at least 20-40%. It’s only two days, but not a trend anyone wants to continue.

Even more concerning is the continued rise in the test positivity rate. While it had risen to 1.2% last week, today it was recorded at 1.6%. That’s more than double the recent low of 0.7% on October 18 noted above.

There were only 12 new Covid-related deaths in L.A. today, but Ferrer said of death rates among unvaxed people: “tragically, they’re now ticking up.”

Among the her chief concerns is “seasonality in the virus,” meaning diseases like Covid and the flu tend to propagate more readily as the weather cools and people spend more time together indoors. In light of that, Ferrer expressed concerns about the coming Thanksgiving holiday.

“We all lived through a devastating November/December last year,” said Ferrer. “We have to learn from past history to not move quickly when we see a slight downward trend, given that we’re moving into colder weather.”

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