Young adults driving transmission of COVID in Southern California

Southern California entered 2022 amid a rapid increase in cases of the Omicron variant coronavirus, with adults between the ages of 18 and 49 transmitting the virus at a high rate and officials urging the public to reduce gatherings of the holiday weekend to help slow the tide.

Los Angeles County recorded more than 27,000 new cases on the last day of 2021, well above last winter’s high average of 16,000 cases per day. Nearly one in four people tested are positive for a coronavirus infection, officials said.

Daily totals of new coronavirus cases double every other day. As of Tuesday, 9,473 cases were reported; Wednesday 16 510; Thursday 20 198; and Friday 27,091. The rate of positive tests for the most recent seven-day period was 22.4%, double what it was for the week ending at Christmas, when it was by 11.4%.

More than 70% of coronavirus cases in Los Angeles County from December 22 to 28 were in adults under the age of 50. In last winter’s outbreak, adults in this age group accounted for 55% of coronavirus cases. Case rates per 100,000 people have increased the fastest in this age group.

The rates among the youngest adults – those aged 18 to 29 – are more than eight times higher than they were a month ago. And among adults in their 30s and 40s, the cases are six times higher.

“A lot of people in this age group are important members of our workforce,” Los Angeles County Director of Public Health Barbara Ferrer said this week.

“And these are also people who are very likely to be outdoors for leisure,” added Ferrer. “Often this age group does not experience the worst consequences of increased transmission. And at times, this has made it more difficult for individuals to remain alert to the need to be vigilant about complying with all public health safety measures. “

Case rates have doubled for children aged 5 to 11 and tripled for adults aged 65 to 79.

In Orange County, adults between the ages of 18 and 44 are the source of transmission of the coronavirus, said Dr Regina Chinsio-Kwong, assistant health worker.

The state’s COVID-19 model estimates that in Southern California and the San Francisco Bay Area, each infected person, on average, transmits the virus to 1.5 other people, meaning that the spread of the virus increase quickly. Rates are even higher in Los Angeles, Orange and San Francisco counties, where the number is estimated at 1.7.

Coronavirus case rates are increasing among people of all vaccine status, but unvaccinated people are still the most likely to test positive. For the week ended Dec. 18, 375 of 100,000 unvaccinated LA County residents tested positive. The rate of those who are vaccinated but did not receive a booster was 173 per 100,000. The rate among boosted residents was 65 per 100,000.

Despite the growing number of infections, far fewer patients have been hospitalized with COVID-19 so far in this fifth outbreak than in the last two outbreaks.

Health officials have expressed optimism that the symptoms of Omicron-related cases are less severe than those of previous variants. This may be in part because although Omicron appears to be more infectious to the respiratory tract, it appears to be less infectious to lung tissue, where infections contribute to breathing problems and death.

It is also likely that the severity of the disease is lower overall because so many people have been vaccinated. In last winter’s wave, very few people were vaccinated due to a limited supply.

Yet huge increases in new coronavirus cases worry health officials that hospitals – especially in areas with low vaccination rates – could be crushed by a crush of patients if transmission remains this high and the virus is overwhelmed. able to find large numbers of unvaccinated people. Those who have not received a single injection remain the most at risk of contracting serious illness from COVID-19.

COVID-19 hospitalizations in LA County have increased 72% since December 23, when 850 people were hospitalized; the most recent tally available showed the number stood at 1,464 on Thursday. Yet that number represents one-fifth of the tally a year earlier, when LA County had 7,628 people positive for the coronavirus in its hospitals. This was close to the historic pandemic record of 8,098 COVID-19 hospital patients, recorded on January 5, a time when hospital mortuaries were overflowing.

Across California, 5,433 COVID-19 patients were hospitalized on Thursday, a jump of 48% from the previous week. But, again, the state’s hospital tally was only a fraction of what it was a year ago, when 20,640 people with COVID-19 were hospitalized statewide, near the historic high of 21,938 recorded on January 6.

COVID-19-related hospitalizations have increased dramatically over the past month in Southern California and the San Francisco Bay Area, where the counts have roughly doubled, and they have increased notably in the Southwest region. Grand Sacramento, where the rate is up about 30%.

Southern California now has the state’s worst COVID-19 hospitalization rate.

Per 100,000 residents, Southern California reports 16 COVID-19 hospital patients; the Greater Sacramento and San Joaquin Valley regions, 14; Rural Northern California, 12; and the Bay Area, 7. A rate of 5 or more is considered concerning.

In Southern California, the Inland Empire has one of the worst rates, with 27 hospitalizations per 100,000 population in San Bernardino County and 19 in Riverside County. San Diego County has a rate of 15 per 100,000; LA and Orange counties, 14; and Ventura County, 12.

Ferrer said all efforts must be aimed at preventing hospitals from being overwhelmed.

“Since most of the people in our hospitals with severe COVID illness are not vaccinated, those who are not yet vaccinated or boosted should please stay away from others as much as possible to avoid getting infected or infecting others, ”she said in a statement Friday.

The Omicron variant is believed to be two to four times more contagious than the previously dominant Delta variant. People who are eligible for booster shots but have not yet received them are at increased risk of infection.

“Data from South Africa and the UK show that the vaccine’s efficacy against infection for two doses of an mRNA vaccine is around 35%. A booster dose of the COVID-19 vaccine restores the vaccine’s effectiveness against the infection to 75%, ”the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said in a statement.

Recent data in LA County has shown an increase in the number of healthcare workers infected with the coronavirus, which is expected to “create stress in our healthcare systems,” Ferrer said.

LA County residents aged 80 and over have “now seen the largest increase in hospitalizations in the past two weeks” compared to other age groups, Ferrer said. In Orange County, 87% of people hospitalized with COVID-19 are not vaccinated.

The daily tally of new COVID-19 pediatric hospitalizations in LA County was zero as of early December, and has increased to about five to seven a day more recently, Ferrer said.

“It’s an increase, for sure, but I want to stress that it’s still a relatively small overall number,” Ferrer said.

With cases skyrocketing overall, state and local authorities have indicated no need for new orders shutting down some businesses or requiring people to stay home, but have considered strengthening requirements in some settings. for vaccinations or negative coronavirus tests.

The California Department of Public Health announced a new order on Friday requiring those attending indoor events with 500 or more attendees to show either full proof of vaccination or a recent negative test to participate. The order will take effect on January 15. Currently, only indoor events with 1,000 or more attendees are subject to this requirement.

The state also announced tighter vaccination and testing requirements for people wishing to visit residents of nursing homes. Starting January 7, visitors wishing to take indoor tours must be up to date with their COVID-19 vaccinations, including a reminder if they are eligible, and provide proof of a recent negative coronavirus test.

A visitor who has not met these requirements can still meet with residents of the facility’s nursing home, but will need to meet them outside and will still need to provide proof of a recent negative coronavirus test.

If a resident cannot leave their room and meet a guest outside, the visit can take place indoors for visitors who cannot provide a vaccine check or negative test, but cannot have place in a common space or in that of the resident. room if a roommate is present. The order exempts guests who rush to see a patient who is in critical condition and could die imminently.

California on Thursday released new recommendations for the isolation of those infected with the virus, more stringent guidelines than those issued earlier in the week by the CDC.

California recommends that asymptomatic people infected with the coronavirus can be released from isolation after the fifth day following a positive test, but only if they test negative.

In contrast, the CDC’s recommendations do not call for a negative follow-up test; the agency recommends that those who end the isolation continue to wear a mask around others for an additional five days.

“The days ahead will be extremely difficult for all of us as we face an extraordinarily high number of cases reflecting the widespread transmission of the virus,” Ferrer said. “To make sure people are able to work and go to school, we all need to act responsibly. “

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