New Variant Could Increase COVID-19 Transmission

Mask up, get that booster, and stay distanced. COVID-19 is still spreading, and variants of the virus causing a rise in both infections and deaths. 

In Los Angeles County, BQ.1 and BQ.1.1 continue to be the dominant COVID-19 strains. However, XBB.1.5 is increasing in the United States, responsible for about 40% of cases nationally and an estimated 9% of COVID-19 cases in California, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Given the rise of XBB.1.5 in other parts of the country, Public Health anticipates increases in XBB.1.5 in LA County as well.

In the past, as new COVID-19 strains have gained dominance, as XBB.1.5 is doing in many parts of the United States, there has been a spike in transmission, resulting in increased hospitalizations and deaths, especially among older people.

Older Los Angeles County residents remain the most vulnerable for hospitalization and deaths compared to other age groups. People ages 50 and older accounted for the highest rates of cases, hospitalizations and deaths in Los Angeles County for the 30-day period that ended December 28. The rates increase with age. Residents who are 80 years old and older, for example, are three times more likely to be hospitalized and five times more likely to die from COVID-19.


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