Watch CBS News

BA.2 blamed for rising COVID-19 cases in LA County

Alex Biston's weather forecast (April 24) 03:09

The number of COVID positive patients at county hospitals in Los Angeles rose slightly Sunday while those infected with the coronavirus appeared to be on the rise, based on the latest state figures released Friday.

As of Sunday, 218 people were hospitalized with COVID-19. Of those, 27 were being treated in intensive care. 

The latest figures come after the county reported another 2,056 infections Friday, raising the pandemic total to 2,859,799. Another 12 COVID-related deaths were reported then, raising the overall death toll to 31,924. The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health does not report COVID data on weekends.  

Also on Friday, residents within the county were once again reaching for their masks following a new local COVID-19 health order requiring face coverings on all public transit, including buses, trains, taxis and ride-hailing service vehicles. 

Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer said the rule will not apply to people aboard airplanes, which are beyond the county's jurisdiction. She stressed that the county is still seeing "a lot of transmission" of COVID-19, and the infectious BA.2 subvariant of the virus is continuing to spread -- now representing 84% of all local cases that undergo special testing to identify variants. 

A pair of offshoot "sub-lineages" of BA.2 have now also been identified, one of which has already been linked to "significant spread" of cases in parts of New York.

While BA.2 is blamed for rising case numbers, those cases still have not led to a spike in hospitalizations due to the virus. In fact, hospitalizations have continued to trend downward. 

But Ferrer said that doesn't diminish the risk of new and potentially more dangerous variants of the virus developing the more it circulates.

The virus "is still equated with significant illness for some people," she said. "It still can cause, even for people who experience mild illness when they first get infected, it can still cause for a good percentage of people `long COVID."

Long COVID causes a range of ongoing health problems including fatigue, loss of taste and trouble with memory or mental concentration. This can even be a factor for people who did not have any symptoms during their initial infection.

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.