Los Angeles County has reported an uptick in COVID-19 deaths, with daily fatalities resulting from the virus doubling in just one week.
The department said most of those fatalities are likely the result of the highly transmissible omicron variant, which was first detected in South Africa last November and has since spread around the world.
Ninety percent of those fatal infections came after Dec. 24, a timeline suggesting that the omicron variant was the cause of the spike in those cases, the department reported.
The county’s Director of Public Health Barbara Ferrer also noted that Black and Latinx residents had higher rates of cases, hospitalization and deaths, marking “a tragedy that reflects both long standing inequities to the resources that promote good health and policies and practices that marginalize the concerns of people of color.”
Early studies have indicated that the omicron variant tends to be more mild than other COVID-19 strains and less likely to cause hospitalizations.
“It means that for the people who are, in fact, ending up passing away from COVID, if they were infected with omicron, it looks like they get hit pretty hard earlier on,” Ferrer explained.
Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti (D) stressed the devastation of the death toll, but said he believes that “we’re in a better place” compared to last winter, The Times reported.
“We’re still walking through … the shadow of the valley of death right now when we see 100-plus people in my city, my county, die in a single day like we did last week,” the mayor said. “And somehow that’s become normalized, or we don’t think about it as hard as we used to. I do. I still think about it. I pray on it each night. I pray on it in the morning when I wake up.”