Updated: Mar 22, 2021
As the total number of hospitalizations decrease in LA County, Angelenos notice more normalcy in their day-to-day lives.
By Marcos Franco, News Editor
What was once the epicenter of the coronavirus pandemic in California is slowly inching towards recovery as hospitalizations in Los Angeles County continue to decline, hitting their lowest point in four months.
For the first time since Nov. 23, LA County’s total number of patients hospitalized with COVID-19 has fallen under 1,000. On March 13, the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health reported a new low of 979 hospitalizations, a turning point for the county as numbers continue to fall. As of March 19, there were 861 total hospitalizations in the county with 28 percent of patients in the ICU. Earlier this week, Los Angeles moved into the less restrictive red tier, which allowed more businesses to reopen and those already open to expand their capacity limitations.
"We have made good progress and have more progress to make,” said Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer in a statement. “We urge everyone to use caution and good judgment in these next critical weeks and months to avoid surges in cases, hospitalizations and deaths like we saw at the end of 2020 and the beginning of 2021.”
Case numbers, hospitalizations and deaths have been declining since vaccines first became accessible in the county in December. At its peak in January, hospitalizations exceeded 8,000 countywide with 20 percent of patients in the ICU. Since then, the total number of individuals hospitalized has dropped 94 percent.
Epidemiologists estimate that in order to reach herd-immunity in the United States, 85 percent of Americans must be inoculated. So far, 40.9 million people, or 12.3 percent of the country's population have been fully vaccinated, leaving the goal-post for ending the pandemic in the distance.
Although herd immunity has yet to be reached, vaccinations continue to accelerate the county's recovery. Only days after moving into the red tier last Monday, which allowed theaters and restaurants to open indoors, health officials hinted towards a possible transition into the less restrictive orange tier by next month.
“Los Angeles County continues to make significant progress slowing transmission,” Ferrer said in a statement. “Should our case numbers continue to decline, our recovery journey could land us in the less restrictive orange tier in April.”
In order to pass on to the orange tier — which would allow for businesses to expand capacity — the county must continuously record a rate of 3.9 daily new cases per 100,000 individuals and positive test rates must fall under 4.9 percent for at least two consecutive weeks.