A newer COVID-19 Omicron strain, XBB.1.5, has emerged as dominant in Los Angeles County, according to the most recent analysis of local COVID samples from the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health (Public Health).
XBB.1.5 accounts for 32.8% of sequenced COVID-19 specimens in Los Angeles County for the week ending Jan. 21, outcompeting BQ.1.1, the previously dominant strain.
While new emergent strains have the potential to drive surges in transmission, Los Angeles County is currently reporting a steady number of COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations compared to the week prior, with deaths slightly lower from what was seen for most of January.
Other parts of the country with significant transmission of XBB.1.5 also have not seen significant increases in COVID-19 hospitalizations or deaths.
Los Angeles County remains in the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Protection’s (CDC) Low COVID-19 Community Level for the fourth consecutive week.
Currently, Los Angeles County’s Low Community Level included a seven-day case rate of 69 new cases per 100,000 people, stable from the week prior. The seven-day total for new COVID-19 hospital admissions per 100,000 people is currently 7, with no change from last week. And the 7-day average of the proportion of staffed inpatient beds occupied by COVID-19 patients is now 4%, the same as it was the week prior.
Because the new dominant strain has more potential to cause infection, Public Health officials are asking residents, especially those who are most vulnerable to severe outcomes, to consider using common-sense protections, such as getting the bivalent booster, testing before large gatherings, and seeking immediate treatment, if sick.
People over 50 and those with common health conditions, including diabetes, hypertension, asthma, kidney or liver disease, or being overweight, are at greater risk of having severe illness or death from a COVID-19 infection. They and the people around them should take extra precautions to stay safe and healthy.
Bivalent boosters offer significant protection even against the newer COVID strains circulating now, including XBB.1.5. In Los Angeles County, unvaccinated people are more than six times more likely to be hospitalized and eight times more likely to die when compared to people who have received the updated bivalent booster.
The bivalent booster is free and available to adults and children ages 6 months or older two months after their last COVID-19 vaccine or booster.
Free vaccines, boosters, testing and treatment remain widely available throughout Los Angeles County. Visit a community-based test to treat site or access telehealth services by calling 1-833-540-0473. Health services for homebound residents also are available.
For more information, visit VaccinateLACounty.com.
“I extend my deepest sympathies to those who have lost a loved one to COVID-19. Please accept my condolences and wishes for comfort and healing,” said Dr. Barbara Ferrer, Ph.D., M.P.H., M.Ed., Director of the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health. “I continue to be encouraged by the COVID numbers we are seeing in LA County. Amidst the optimism, I know we all need to continue to support those who remain impacted by COVID-19, particularly residents who are older, immunocompromised, have disabilities, and those with many exposures during the course of their day. Care options, including free telehealth services, therapeutics, and vaccines are available and continued access remains our top priority.”
Public Health on Friday, Feb. 10 reported 22 additional deaths and 1,482 new positive cases. To date, the total number of deaths in L.A. County is 35,425. There are 689 people with COVID-19 currently hospitalized.