A look back at three years of COVID-19 in Los Angeles

Illustration of a Cake with Happy Third Anniversary Icing

It was easy to miss last week, but March 15 marked three years since then-Mayor Eric Garcetti ordered restaurants in the City of Los Angeles to suspend in-person service, and bars, theaters and other businesses to stop. shutdown in the face of the growing threat of coronavirus. It would usher in an unpredictable period in which cases and deaths would rise and fall.

This is Crosstown’s look back at the turns and toll COVID-19 had in Los Angeles County.


Since the beginning of the pandemic, the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health has reported more than 3.7 million cases. This only includes those registered by the county. Many infections diagnosed through home testing, particularly in the past year, have never been publicly reported.

Despite the fact that the rising counts had scared people in the first months, nothing could prepare the region for the first winter: in January 2021, before the vaccines were widely available, there were more than 15,000 cases. daily on average.

The trough occurred in June 2021, when the seven-day average briefly dipped below 200.

There were other peaks and valleys, often linked when a new variant emerged. The greatest diffusion happened with omicron, and in January 2022 the county averaged more than 40,000 cases daily. However, despite the higher numbers, the widespread application of vaccinations meant that fewer people suffered severe symptoms or died than the previous year.

Bar chart of monthly COVID-19 cases in Los Angeles County

In the third year there was a summer peak, but then the cases went down again. A surge similar to the one that occurred in the first two winters never materialized.

On March 14, the last day in the three-year span, the seven-day average of cases was 759. That was the lowest count since April 2022.

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The total cost of living is so huge that the number barely makes sense: To date, nearly 36,000 people in Los Angeles County have died from COVID-19.

More than one in three total deaths occurred that first winter, which again was before most people could get vaccinated. In January 2021 alone, 6,473 Angelenos died due to COVID-19.

another peak it happened the following winteralthough it did not come close to the initial peak.

Since the start of the pandemic, the lowest seven-day average of deaths from COVID-19 has been four. That came from July 1-6, 2021.

Line chart of monthly COVID-19 deaths in Los Angeles County

As of March 14, the seven-day average for deaths in Los Angeles County was 10.


The Department of Public Health began reporting COVID-19-related hospitalizations in May 2020. As with cases and deaths, there have been low periods and blistering spikes. The maximum was the more than 8,000 hospitalizations reported in a single day in January 2021.

Once again, vaccines had an impact. They became widely available in the summer of 2021, and while some people suffered severe consequences, many who contracted COVID-19 never required high-level medical treatment.

Still, nearly 5,000 hospitalizations were reported in a single day in January 2022.

Line graph of COVID-19 hospitalizations over three Januarys in Los Angeles County

This winter, hospitalizations decreased during January. They fell 43.3% over the course of the month.

As of March 14, according to the County Department of Public Health, 474 people were in area hospitals with COVID-19. The last time hospitalizations were this low was in early November.

positivity rate

In the early days of COVID-19, it was nearly impossible to get tested. Eventually, they became more widely available, though appointments at county-run sites or special testing centers were required. Now, of course, almost everyone has a stack of home tests.

The Department of Public Health began publishing the daily test positivity rate in January 2021: it was 21.8% on January 6 of the year. It fell gradually, down to 0.3% at the end of May. He omicron surge in January 2022 it brought the level back to 22.4%.

Once again, the figures for this January were below those of the past, never eclipsing the 16.1% of January 3.

The rate has stabilized around 5% in recent weeks. On March 14 it was 4.8%.

Taking pictures

The first vaccines against COVID-19 became available in December 2020, although they were limited to frontline medical professionals. Supplies were in short supply for months, reserved for the elderly or people with health problems. In early 2021, people would report to vaccination sites at the end of the day, hoping to access “leftover” doses.

So production increased, and in May 2021, the county began rolling out immunizations for people ages 12-15. In October, children ages 5 to 11 became eligible. The following June, the vaccines were available for those older than 6 months.

According to the County Public Health Department Immunization Board, 81% of county residents have received at least one dose of the vaccine. Approximately 74% are fully vaccinated and 43% have received at least one additional vaccination.

In total, more than 21.5 million doses have been administered in Los Angeles County. The peak occurred in March 2021, when more than 1.7 million people received a needlestick in the arm. In February 2023, only 4,521 injections were administered.

The bivalent booster has been available in the county since last September. This protects against the original strains of COVID-19 as well as Omicron variants. The peak of this reinforcement occurred in October, when more than 500,000 Angelenos took the plunge.

Since then, COVID-19 vaccines of all kinds have declined.

How did we do it: We analyze coronavirus data related to new cases, deaths, hospitalizations, and vaccines provided by the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health.

Interested in our data? review the Crosstown coronavirus interactive map Or email [email protected].