By CBSLA Staff

LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) – Close to 10,000 new COVID-19 cases were reported Friday in Los Angeles County as the easily transmissible Omicron variant continues to take hold.

Medical workers are seen at a SameDay Health drive-through testing site in L.A. on Dec. 23, 2021. (Getty Images)

The L.A. County Department of Public Health confirmed 9,988 new coronavirus cases, more than triple the daily numbers from Tuesday.

There has been a sharp spike in case counts in L.A. County this week. 8,633 new infections were reported Thursday, a 33% jump from Wednesday’s 6,509. Wednesday’s number was more than double the total from Tuesday, when 3,052 cases were reported.

The daily test positivity rate has also increased substantially. It went from 2.3% on Dec. 18, to 9.7% on Friday.

According to state numbers Thursday morning, there were 850 people hospitalized with COVID-19 in L.A. County, including 181 in intensive care units. That’s up about 100 patients from Dec. 20, and about 300 from a month ago.

There were 21 deaths from the disease also reported Friday. L.A. County’s COVID-19 death toll is now at 27,533 since the pandemic started.

The L.A. County Department of Health Services announced it will expand the county’s free COVID-19 testing because of the drastic increase in demand. Officials have extended the hours of operation for testing sites, adding additional days of operation during the week and weekend and activating more mobile testing units areas with high case counts.

DHS also announced the relaunch of the Holiday Home Test Collection Program, where residents can order a home testing kit from the county.

“LA County residents are doing right by getting tested as a precaution before gathering, if they have been exposed and at the first sign of symptoms,” said DHS director Dr. Christina Ghaly in a statement. “Getting tested and isolating as needed plays a vital role in our collective fight against the current Holiday surge, we encourage anyone – including those who are vaccinated – to get tested if they believe they have been exposed or are experiencing symptoms.”