As shown in the graph above, LA County reported this week that the daily average of new COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations, and deaths remained relatively stable again this week, firming up the County’s assessment that we are indeed now in a “new phase” of the pandemic.

In her weekly address on Thursday, LA County Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer reported the good news that LA County remains in the the “low” community tier for COVID-19 for the sixth week in a row. However, the week also saw the state of California pass the major landmark of 100,000 COVID-19 deaths since the beginning of the pandemic (LA County accounts for more than 35,000 of that total), and Ferrer also noted that while our current numbers numbers are about 50% of their January levels, they’re still higher than they were this past October. And that definitely means “COVID is still circulating,” and “these aren’t low levels.What makes the numbers less worrisome now, though, Ferrer said, is that the current number of new cases doesn’t seem to be driving increased hospitalizations, which means that tools like masking, vaccines, and therapeutics are definitely working to improve our overall quality of life with COVID-19.

Next, also in the good news category, Ferrer reported that while the XBB.1.5 Omicron variant (gold bar in the graph below), continues to increase its dominance to about 45% of cases locally and as much as 95% in other parts of the U.S., there are no new overly-concerning variants emerging, and those we are seeing are still in the Omicron family, for which our current vaccines were developed.

Given our current relative stability on the infection front, Ferrer turned much of her attention this week to the still fairly mysterious phenomenon of “Long COVID,” which – like COVID-19 itself – will likely continue to be part of many people’s lives for a very long time.

According to Ferrer, Long COVID is the “continuation of signs, symptoms, and conditions of a COVID-19 infection for four weeks or more after the initial phase of the infection.” It can involve a variety of symptoms, some of which can co-exist and/or worsen over time. Symptoms include things like extreme fatigue and a variety of respiratory, heart, neurological, digestive, and other issues.

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