Sewage tests show COVID presence stabilizing in LA County | KFI AM 640
LOS ANGELES (CNS) – Virus analysis of equipment in Los Angeles County sewer systems appears to show an overall plateau in COVID-19 in the community, health officials said Friday, noting that the analysis helps address the lack of comprehensive virus test results due to the increasing use of home testing by residents.
The county has been reporting declining trends in positive tests and virus transmission for weeks, while admitting that infection numbers are incomplete due to the prevalence of home testing, the results of which are generally not released to health authorities.
To address this shortcoming, the county monitored concentrations of COVID-19 detected at four sewer systems. The two largest systems saw declines for most of September, although one reported a slight increase last week. Two smaller systems reported mostly stable virus concentrations, with slight increases in recent days.
According to the county’s public health department, the indication of a plateau in COVID concentrations could indicate that transmission of the virus is no longer decreasing in the county. But health officials said all other surveillance efforts still indicate a low level of concern and they “remain hopeful that transmission is not increasing at this time.”
Most COVID metrics in the county continue to decline, with the county reporting a seven-day daily average of 1,297 new cases this week, down 8% from a week ago.
But county officials remain cautious about a new winter spike in infections, similar to those that have occurred in the past two years. County Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer noted this week that a flu resurgence could also occur this winter after two years of low numbers of infections. She again encouraged residents on Friday to make sure they are up to date on flu shots and COVID vaccines.
“Influenza and COVID-19 are likely to infect more people when days are shorter and temperatures are cooler,” Ferrer said in a statement. “This is both because people are spending more time indoors where the respiratory virus can accumulate and pass more easily from person to person and because the cooler weather allows particles from the influenza and SARS-CoV-2 viruses to linger longer in the air and travel farther, potentially infecting airways that have weaker defenses. what this winter will look like, including the magnitude of the COVID and flu outbreak we are likely to have, we know that as cooler weather sets in and cases increase, the risks will increase for some people more than for others.
“Risks are high for older residents, for those with underlying health conditions, for those at higher risk and for those who are unvaccinated. As we prepare for the upcoming holidays, a strategy to reduce the risk for those most vulnerable to poor outcomes if infected, is for everyone, including those at low risk, to promptly receive the fall COVID bivalent booster and influenza vaccine Indeed, low-risk people, including children, can easily transmit both influenza and COVID to more vulnerable people.
The county reported 1,682 new cases of COVID on Friday, bringing the cumulative total for the entire pandemic to 3,456,407. Six more virus-related deaths have been reported, giving the county an overall death toll of 33,603.
The average rate of people testing positive for the virus was 4.3% on Friday.
According to state figures, there were 496,499 COVID-positive patients in county hospitals Friday, down slightly from 499 the day before. Of those patients, 64 were being treated in intensive care, up from 59 on Thursday.
County officials said about 43% of COVID patients were actually hospitalized with virus-related illness, while the rest were admitted for other reasons, with some only learning they were infected when tested on admission.