The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health on Sunday reported 1,313 new coronavirus cases, even as the rate of positive tests continues to decline.
Over the last seven days, 1.8% of people who were tested for the coronavirus were positive, down from more than 20% at the beginning of the year.
The county also reported 22 deaths — probably an undercount due to a lag in reporting over the weekend.
There are 1,176 people hospitalized with COVID-19 in the county; nearly one-third are in intensive care. Hospitalizations have fallen by 50% in the last two weeks.
Deaths and hospitalizations are both lagging indicators of the coronavirus’ spread, reflecting exposures that occurred several weeks before.
A total of more than 1.2 million cases have been confirmed in L.A. County, and 22,029 people have died. Statewide, there have been more than 3.5 million confirmed cases and 54,124 deaths.
In a statement Saturday, Barbara Ferrer, L.A. County’s public health director, urged the public to continue to follow public health guidelines — avoiding large gatherings, wearing masks and postponing nonessential travel — as the weather warms and more businesses open across the state.
Orange County on Sunday reported 110 new cases and 53 deaths; public health officials said death reports over the next few days may be higher than usual as they clear a backlog that arose from technical issues in a state database. There are 296 Orange County residents hospitalized with the disease, 30% of whom are in intensive care.
Both L.A. and Orange counties, along with the rest of Southern California, remain in the state’s most restrictive tier for reopening, purple. The counties are soon expected to enter the next tier, red, depending in part on when California can administer more vaccinations in low-income areas.
As of Sunday, L.A. County, which has a population of 10 million, had administered 2,489,533 doses of vaccine. Orange County, with a population of 3.2 million, had administered 832,948 doses.
In L.A. County, healthcare workers, people 65 and older and essential workers in education, child care, emergency services and food and agriculture are eligible to receive the vaccine.
Amid the declining cases and expanding vaccinations, outdoor restaurant dining, hair and nail salons and museums have reopened at reduced capacity. Some schools in L.A. County have reopened with modifications for transitional kindergarten through sixth grade; Los Angeles Unified has said it expects to reopen for some elementary grades in mid-April.
State officials said Friday that theme parks and sports stadiums could open as early as April 1.