LOS ANGELES – With COVID-19’s impact generally easing, although still deadly, could Los Angeles County be on the verge of a nasty flu season?
That was the concern expressed Friday by the county’s Public Health director, who said the intense infection-control measures put in place to combat the pandemic also led to a dramatic reduction in flu cases over the past two years.
As a result, however, residents could potentially be more susceptible to flu infections, particularly if the area is hit with an infectious influenza strain being tracked in countries like Australia.
Mask mandates are being lifted on public transportation, hospitals, and the airport but residents say they are still going to wear them.
“I’m still wearing that mask,” said Maria Hechevarria.
In response to the dwindling cases, local government have reopened council chambers to the public to attend City meetings in person. The Supreme Court will also reopen ot the public next week.
In the city of Inglewood, the council insists on teleconferencing under AB 361 which prevents the public from entering City Hall beyond the 1st floor without an appointment. This mandate also keeps the public out of council chambers and must attend meetings either remotely or across the parking lot in the Lecture Hall at the Main Library.
“AB 361 allows us to do it so we will continue,” said Inglewood Mayor james Butts. Inglewood is also one of the only cities providing employees with a $1,000 incentive to get vaccinated.
The county on Thursday reported 1,517 new COVID-19 infections, raising the overall total from throughout the pandemic to 3,454,542. The infection numbers reported by the county are believed to be an undercount of actual cases due to the prevalence of at-home COVID tests, the results of which are generally not reported to health officials.
Another 12 virus-related fatalities were reported, giving the county a cumulative death toll of 33,598.
According to state figures, there were 499 COVID-positive patients in county hospitals as of Thursday, up from 471 the previous day. Of those patients, 59 were being treated in intensive care, down slightly from 60 on Wednesday.
County officials have said about 43% of patients with COVID were actually hospitalized due to virus-related illness, while the rest were admitted for other reasons, with some only learning they were infected when they were tested upon admission.
The seven-day average rate of people testing positive for the virus was 4.6% as of Thursday.