By CBSLA Staff

LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) – After weeks of steady increases, the number of people hospitalized in Los Angeles County due to COVID-19 appeared to be leveling off Monday, with an increase of only two patients following four days of declines.

According to state figures, there were 1,724 COVID-positive patients in Los Angeles County hospitals as of Monday, up from 1,722 on Sunday. The number of patients being treated in intensive care units, however, continued climbing, reaching 454 on Monday. That’s up from 439 on Sunday.

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The county reported seven new COVID deaths on Monday along with 2,331 cases. Statistics released on Monday tend to be artificially low due to delays in reporting from the weekend.

The new fatalities lifted the county’s overall death toll due to COVID to 25,078. Since the pandemic began, the county has confirmed 1,385,505 infections.

The rolling average rate of people testing positive for the virus was 2.8% as of Monday, down from 3.4% a week ago.

Over the weekend, county health officials released statistics aimed at encouraging people to get vaccinated against COVID. According to the county, as of Aug. 7, unvaccinated adults between 18 and 49 years old were 25 times more likely to be hospitalized with COVID-19 than vaccinated adults of the same age. Meanwhile, unvaccinated adults over age 50 were nearly a dozen times more likely to be hospitalized than their vaccinated counterparts, and 17 times more likely to die, according to the county.

On Monday, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration gave full approval to the Pfizer vaccine. It was the first of the three U.S. vaccines to receive such approval. All three versions of the vaccine have been in circulation under an “emergency use” authorization from the FDA.

“The COVID-19 vaccine is safe and remains the most powerful tool we have to both lower our risk of infection and protect against serious illness and death from COVID-19 if infected,” county Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer said. “The other tools to help reduce and prevent transmission are wearing a mask, keeping your distance, avoiding crowds and poorly ventilated spaces, and washing your hands frequently.

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“We are grateful to the many scientists and researchers who have worked tirelessly to develop and evaluate the vaccines during the most challenging public health crisis of our lifetime. We are also grateful to the FDA for their thoughtful analyses and review processes to ensure that we can have the highest confidence that the vaccine is safe and effective. I hope the milestone of this vaccine’s full approval gives those that were waiting to get vaccinated the confidence to now take this important step.”

The latest figures show that 73% of county residents age 12 and over have received at least one dose of vaccine, and 63% are fully vaccinated. Among residents aged 65 and older, 90% have received at least one dose, and 80% are fully vaccinated.

The health department on Friday reminded residents about the need to get tested if they develop symptoms or were exposed to the virus — even if they are fully vaccinated. Those people should also isolate from others while awaiting test results, according to the county.

The county also urged people to cooperate with contact tracers, who reach out to those who test positive or have been exposed. The contact-tracing process is considered crucial to identifying people who may have been exposed to the virus without their knowledge, and to containing potential outbreaks.

Contact tracers can also provide information about isolation and quarantine and how to access services and providers.

Calls from contact tracers will display on phones as “LA Public Health” or 833-641-0305.

People who have tested positive for COVID-19 but have not received a call from contact tracers were urged to call 833-540-0473.

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(© Copyright 2021 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. City News Service contributed to this report.)