By CBSLA Staff

LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) — On Monday, the Los Angeles County Public Health Department reported a decrease in new COVID-19 cases, however, hospitalizations have risen since Sunday.

On Dec. 27, Public Health announced 7,425 new cases almost 1,500 less than Sunday’s total, however, according to authorities, data reported on Mondays tend to be lower because of reporting delays on the weekend. The county also reported a 12.4% positivity rate, triple the positivity rate reported last week, which represents high levels of community transmission.

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Public Health also reported that despite high vaccination levels amongst healthcare workers, cases within the community are rising, spreading concern of staffing shortages during the surge.

“During the week ending on December 18th, a total 292 cases were identified among L.A. County healthcare workers, an increase of 26% from the previous week,” officials said in a statement.

Nearly half of the hospitals in the county are reporting staffing shortages, more than double the percentage reported during the beginning of the last winter surge. To ensure the safety of healthcare workers, the county revised the health order, requiring all eligible healthcare workers to receive a booster shot by Feb. 1 or be tested for COVID-19 twice a week.

“Keeping healthcare workers safe is critical to maintaining functionality across our healthcare facilities when surges lead to rising rates of hospitalizations,” said Public Health director Dr. Barbara Ferrer.

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The healthcare community has maintained a high vaccination rate with 91% of hospital workers, 93% of dialysis workers and 83% of EMS staff vaccinated as of mid-November. And as of Dec. 12, 96% of skilled nursing facility staff are vaccinated. However, Ferrer added that while vaccination rates among healthcare workers are high, with the rising amount of cases measures must be taken to ensure proper staffing of hospitals.

“However, the threat of rising cases and concerning hospital staffing shortages require us to act quickly to ensure that in the face of the high transmissible Omicron variant, our essential workforce has an important added layer of protection,”  she said.

There are currently 904 people hospitalized with COVID-19, 55 more than Sunday’s total of 849. Nine deaths were reported today all of whom were above 50 years old. Of the nine deaths, three were between the ages of 50-64, one between the ages of 65-79 and five over the age of 80. Six of the people who died had underlying conditions.

The Centers For Disease Control And Prevention also announced today a change to the isolation protocol for those infected with COVID-19 and their close contacts.

The Omicron variant is spreading quickly and has the potential to impact all facets of our society,” said CDC director Rachel Walensky. “These updates ensure people can safely continue their daily lives.”

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