LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) – The number of COVID-19 patients in Los Angeles County hospitals continued to increase Monday as the highly transmissible Omicron variant takes it toll.
According to state figures, there were 4,564 COVID-positive patients in county hospitals as of Monday, up slightly from 4,507 on Sunday.
It marks a staggering six-fold increase in hospitalizations from just a month ago, when there were just 772 COVID-positive patients in L.A. County hospitals.
The number of those patients in intensive care Tuesday was 621.
Health officials have been raising concerns about the current surge in cases impacting a hospital system already strained by staffing shortages -- which have been further exacerbated by COVID infections among health care professionals, preventing them from coming to work.
They continue to urge people to avoid going to an emergency room unless absolutely necessary, and called on them to not visit a hospital ER to get tested for COVID.
The situation is so dire that the California Department of Public Health issued new guidance Jan. 7 which states that healthcare workers who test positive for the coronavirus, but are asymptomatic, can return to work without testing or isolation periods.
The guidance has prompted protests from nursing groups statewide.
The L.A. County Department of Public Health reported 31,576 new COVID infections as well Monday. That number was likely lower due to delays in weekend reporting by testing labs.
There were also 27 new deaths from the disease. The county reported nearly 120 deaths over the weekend. The county's total COVID-19 death toll since the start of the pandemic is 28,086.
If there's any positive sign that the current surge might soon ebb, it is in the average daily rate of people testing positive for the virus. That percentage has been falling slightly over the past week, reaching 16.5% on Monday, down from 17.2% on Sunday. The rate was over 20% a week ago.
Health officials noted, however, that even at 16.5%, the rate is still eight times higher than the 2% testing-positivity rate one month ago.
(© Copyright 2022 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. City News Service contributed to this report.)
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