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COVID-19 deaths rise in LA County, but officials blame delta more than omicron

Luke Money and Rong-Gong Lin II, Los Angeles Times on

Published in News & Features

LOS ANGELES — Los Angeles County has recently noted an increase in coronavirus deaths, but officials think they are mainly tied to the delta variant, rather than the prolific omicron strain that has fueled record-high infections in the county and across the state.

Over the last week, the county has averaged 24 reported COVID-19 deaths a day, up from about 14 a month ago. L.A. reported 39 COVID-19 deaths Wednesday and 45 on Thursday — the latter of which is the highest daily fatality figure recorded over the autumn and winter.

Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer said Thursday she believes there are still people infected with the previously dominant delta variant who have been dying in L.A. County’s hospitals.

“Many people are sick for quite a while and many are hospitalized for quite a while before they pass away, so it is likely that most of the deaths we are seeing are still related to delta, although not entirely,” Ferrer said.

Dr. Rochelle Walensky, director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, expressed the same sentiment earlier this week.

“Given the sheer number of cases, we may see deaths from omicron. But I suspect the deaths that we’re seeing now are still from delta,” she said Wednesday.

 

She added: “We will need to follow those deaths over the next couple of weeks to see the impact of omicron on mortality.”

Statewide, an average of 108 Californians have died from COVID-19 per day over the last week, according to data compiled by The Times. That’s more than double the level from two weeks ago.

HOSPITAL SITUATION

There is growing evidence that omicron spreads much more quickly than its delta cousin but causes less severe illness for many.

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