Los Angeles Covid test positivity up 25% in past week as concerns over winter surge grow

Los Angeles Covid test positivity up 25% in past week as concerns over winter surge grow

Temperatures have cooled considerably in Los Angeles over the past few days, with unusual rains and cold nights hinting at the upcoming holidays and, as has been the case for the past two years, fears of a next wave of Covid .

“We are really at a point that can be a crossroads here. As we enter the colder months, we are starting to see the emergence of omicron sublineage variants,” said White House adviser Dr. Anthony Fauci. Health Care Conversations radio show yesterday.

In fact, across the country, the long-dominant BA.5 variant no longer holds that distinction. It’s being pushed by a gallery of new rogue strains, including BQ1.1, BQ1, BA4.6 and BF.7, whose combined proportions are now above BA.5 for the first time in months.

Proportions vary over time, courtesy CDC

Over the past month, LA County has noted signals that the local case rate may not be dropping any further. The steady decline seen since July appeared to peak in mid-October – and now the indicators appear to be heading higher.

This week, LA County is reporting an almost 10% increase in the 7-day average number of cases compared to a week ago. Today, LA County Public Health reported 7 additional deaths and 1,447 new positive cases. That number of new cases, while certainly undercounted, is the highest single-day tally in weeks.

The 7-day average test positivity rate increased by more than 25% in the past week, reaching 5% today. That’s quite a jump in a number that’s averaged over the course of a week to smooth out data issues.

Los Angeles County Department of Public Health

Although Omicron BA.5 continues to be the dominant sub-variant, each week it accounts for a smaller proportion of samples in Los Angeles. As of the week ending October 15, it accounted for approximately 72% of the specimens sequenced. BF.7, a descendant of BA.5, constitutes the second highest proportion of cases sequenced at 7.8%.

Recently, county officials added two additional descendant strains of BA.5 to the weekly variant reports: BQ.1 and BQ.1.1. Each of these sublineages represents 3.4% of the specimens sequenced for the week ending October 15. BQ.1 and BQ.1.1 have been reported to have growth advantages over some of the other sublines, and they may start growing here as well.

Over the past seven days, the average number of daily Covid-positive patients at LA County hospitals has increased slightly to 403. The previous week, the average number of daily Covid-positive patients per day was 389.

Deaths, which usually delay hospitalizations by several weeks, have fallen slightly and average 8 deaths reported each day for the past week.

“With unusually high recent levels of influenza and other respiratory illnesses, there are signs the county could be heading for a surge of Covid this fall and winter,” said the county’s director of public health, Barbara Ferrer.

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