The delta variant is causing a massive surge of COVID cases across California, but LA is getting hit especially hard
The delta variant of COVID-19 is spreading rapidly across the U.S., especially in places where the vaccination rate is low. But just over half of the U.S. population has been vaccinated nationwide, giving the virus plenty of room to spread. The state of California is now becoming a hotspot as delta cases surge. Los Angeles has been hit particularly hard, recording a 40 percent increase in cases in just the last 24 hours.
The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health confirmed that it recorded 2,551 new COVID cases on Wednesday, a 40 percent increase from Tuesday, when there were 1,821 new cases. It’s also a 2,000 percent increase from a month ago, when the county recorded only 124 new cases on June 21.
Of those cases, county health officials said 83 percent are in people aged 50 or younger. Of the seven new deaths reported in the state, only two were over age 65 — the majority of people who have died from COVID in California recently were younger. That’s strong evidence that the surge is being driven by the delta variant, which is significantly more contagious than previous strains of the virus, and also seems to hit harder in young people. On Wednesday, California Governor Gavin Newsom announced that 60 percent of the tested samples in the state are now delta.
In LA, case positivity was up to 5.2 percent on Wednesday, compared to 4.8 percent on Tuesday. This is typically seen as a better indicator of community spread than case counts, since it doesn’t change if fewer COVID tests are administered.
What’s especially worrying in LA is how much hospitalizations have increased in the last month. On Wednesday, there were 585 people hospitalized with COVID in LA county, with 23 percent of them in ICUs. Compare that to just 213 people hospitalized on June 21. And hospitalizations and deaths tend to lag several weeks behind surges in case numbers, which means we likely haven’t even begun to see the more serious affects of the surge that’s happening in LA over the last few days.
LA’s Health Officer has issued an order for masks to be required in all indoor spaces. While Gov. Newsom has declined to re-impose a statewide mandate, nearly half of California’s 58 counties have reissued some sort of indoor masking guidance. Most recently, masks have become required indoors in Santa Barbara, Monterey, Napa, San Benito, Santa Cruz, Ventura, Lake and San Joaquin.