LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) — Los Angeles County set a new daily record for COVID-19 positive cases.
Public health officials Sunday recorded 45,584 new cases and 13 deaths. Of those, 3,364 people currently hospitalized with COVID-19. This new number trumps the record set just two days ago - 43,712 - by nearly 2,000 additional cases.
Experts indicate that the drastic increase of numbers over recent weeks can be attributed to the surge in testing, especially with all Los Angeles Unified School District students being tested, a requirement set by the district prior to school restarting on Tuesday.
The county also reported that the positivity rate has increased again, jumping from 20.4% to 20.6%, still less than Monday's rate of 22.7%.
With the 13 additional deaths, the county totals have now reached 27,785. Officials disclosed that the death total may be an undercount, due to lack of reporting on the weekend.
Hospitalizations are also up to nearly 3,500, and ICU patient numbers have grown by nearly 100 just since Friday, with 435 in urgent care.
In a statement released on Saturday, when the Department of Public Health announced that Los Angeles County had surpassed 200,000 positive tests in just the span of a week, Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer urged residents to reconsider attending large events, and to work on upgrading masks to surgical levels, especially with Omicron's high-transmissibility:
"As the surge continues, we ask residents and businesses to continue following the public health safety measures that we know reduce spread and keep people safe. This includes wearing a medical grade mask that is more protective against the Omicron variant and not spending time around others who are unmasked. These upgraded masks can be a surgical mask or an N95 or KN95 respirator mask.''
There has also been a stark rise in infections amongst healthcare workers, with 973 infections reported by those working in some form of medical facility. In response, California is requiring all healthcare workers to receive a booster shot by the end of January. Those who decline to do so will undergo mandatory testing, twice a week.
This all comes in light of a recent emergency response package that Governor Gavin Newsom has proposed, worth $2.7 billion, with the goal of bolstering testing capacities at centers across the state, and accelerating vaccination efforts. Newsom also recently announced the activation of the California National Guard to assist at testing centers, deploying 200 members to testing more than 50 sites statewide.
CBS reporters were on site in Montclair, where National Guard members assisted in moving a steady flow of would-be testers through the facility. Already, a noted efficiency could be seen, especially by those waiting in line on Sunday.
"It wasn't that long. It was actually pretty fast," said San Bernardino resident Kassandra Navarrete.
Andy Huang and his family have been searching for an open spot at testing sites for weeks, and finally today they found their opening. "It was great, it was fast," Huang told CBS, "We just actually made the appointment about 30 minutes ago, and we walked here and there was no line."
For many members, this is far from their first rodeo when it comes to running a smooth ship at COVID testing sites. Master Sergeant Nathan Easley, assisting with the Operations NCO COVID Task Force South, detailed that, "This isn't their first activation - we're on our second, third, some of these people have actually been on orders for the last two years continuously."
Additional COVID-19 testing sites are set to open in the City of Industry, in a drive-thru capacity expected to be able to handle up to 1,000 vehicles and Long Beach on Monday, the latter of which is supposedly capable of administering up to 3,000 tests daily. Santa Monica also opened a new facility on Saturday.
(© Copyright 2022 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. City News Service contributed to this report.)
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