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Additional Essential Workers Now Eligible For A COVID-19 Vaccine

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Additional essential workers, including janitorial staff, public transit workers, airport ground crews and social workers are now eligible to receive a COVID-19 vaccine as early as Thursday. 

Dr. Barbara Ferrer, director of the Department of Public Health, announced on Wednesday the new eligible workers as part of phase 1B of the state vaccine plan. 

Janitors and custodians who work in a commercial or public building are eligible, excluding house cleaners in private residences, according to the guidance.

Eligible public transit workers include airport workers, ground crews, as well as employees at L.A. Metro and other Los Angeles County public transit operators, according to Public Health.

Social workers who handle cases of violence, abuse or neglect and foster parents providing emergency housing for young people, are also eligible to be vaccinated, according to the department.

For the janitorial and custodial workers, Public Health is in the process of creating appointments this weekend on both Saturday and Sunday at the Forum and on Saturday at the Downey vaccination site.

Starting March 15, residents aged 16-64 with underlying health conditions “deemed to be at the very highest risk” of severe illness from COVID-19 become eligible for a vaccine.

Health conditions included in this group include cancer, chronic kidney disease, chronic pulmonary disease, Down syndrome, solid organ transplant, pregnancy, sickle cell disease, heart conditions, severe obesity and type 2 diabetes, according to the guidelines. 

Those with developmental or other significant high-risk disabilities are also part of the next group starting on Monday, according to Public Health. 

Providers and healthcare facilities are working to use their health record systems to identify patients who have these conditions and reach out to them so they can be vaccinated, according to the department.

Ferrer said Wednesday the allocation for these new groups is unknown, with Public Health having difficulty estimating the number of residents now eligible.

On Tuesday, Los Angeles County reached the case threshold to move into the “red” tier, according to Ferrer. 

On the California Bluprint for a Safer Economy, L.A. County has a seven-day average of 5.2 cases per 100,000 residents, below the required 7 cases per 100,000 residents, according to ot the state. 

Previously, Los Angeles County was required to be below the required seven cases per 100,000 for two weeks, but the state changed the guidelines last week. 

Now, a county can advance to the next tier 48 hours after the threshold of administering 2 million vaccine doses in hard-hit communities statewide, a total that could be reached by the end of the week, according to Public Health.

Should the cases and test positivity rates remain at or below the red tier metrics next week, the County would move to the red tier on March 17, according to Public Health.

There is a possibility that the date could be sooner, once California reaches the 2 million vaccine dose threshold. 

Over 1.9 million vaccine doses in underserved areas have been administered as of Wednesday, and Ferrer expected the state to reach the goal in the coming days. 

Once in the red tier, additional businesses and schools are allowed to reopen, upon approval from Public Health.

119 additional deaths were reported in L.A. County on Wednesday, along with 1,514 new COVID-19 cases, according to the public health director.

A few hundred cases reported Wednesday are part of a backlog, Ferrer said. 

The total number of deaths is now 22,213, with the cumulative case total reaching 1,206,713, according to Public Health. 

March 10 marks the one-year anniversary of the first COVID-19 death in Los Angeles County. Now, COVID-19 is the leading cause of death in L.A. County, topping coronary heart disease, Ferrer said. 

There are 1,079 patients hospitalized as of Wednesday with 30% in the intensive care unit (ICU).

A total of 5,914,814 people have been tested for COVID-19 in L.A. County, and the positivity rate of those tests is 19%.

Public Health is working to close the gap of inequalities in the distribution of COVID-19 vaccines in Los Angeles County.

Ferrer said Wednesday the county has increased the vaccination levels of every group of residents over the age of 65. 

As more groups become eligible for a COVID-19 vaccine, supply is expected to be limited, however, is set to increase in the coming weeks.  

For information about vaccine appointments in L.A. County, visit here.

Note: This story has been updated with additional information from the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health.

Coronavirus

L.A. County Sees Increase In COVID-19 Cases Among Staff, Residents At Nursing Facilities

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Los Angeles County is now experiencing an increase in cases among staff and residents at skilled nursing facilities, public health officials said Tuesday.

The rise is in part due to the highly transmissible Delta variant and a small number of post-vaccination infections among those fully vaccinated, according to the L.A. County Department of Public Health.

Currently, 86% of residents and 85% of staff at skilled nursing facilities are fully vaccinated. For the week ending July 18, 33 people tested positive for COVID-19: six new cases among residents, and 27 new cases among staff.

 For the previous weeks, an average of 22 new cases were reported among staff and residents at skilled nursing facilities.

Masks have consistently been required in all healthcare settings, including skilled nursing facilities, regardless of vaccination status. Routine testing of staff and residents is also required at skilled nursing facilities, and there are stringent infection control directives, according to the department.

On Tuesday, Public Health confirmed 2,293 new cases of COVID-19. To date, the department has identified 1,307,970 positive cases of COVID-19 across all areas of L.A. County and a total of 24,704 deaths.

There are 1,138 people with COVID-19 currently hospitalized and 22% of these people are in the ICU. This is an increase of 313 daily hospitalizations since last Tuesday.

“Residents at skilled nursing facilities are often medically fragile and throughout this pandemic have been at great risk for serious illness and death from COVID-19. Thankfully, because of their high COVID-19 vaccination rates and infection control measures at facilities, we are not seeing dramatic increases in COVID-19 cases among staff and residents at skilled nursing facilities, nor have we seen significant increases in deaths,” said Dr. Barbara Ferrer, director of public health in a statement. “In order to ensure a continued high level of protection during this surge, staff and residents not yet vaccinated should do so. And we ask everyone who plans to visit someone in a skilled nursing facility to mask up and be fully vaccinated to prevent transmission to very vulnerable residents.”

Anyone 12 and older living or working in L.A. County can get vaccinated against COVID-19. For more information, visit here

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California To Require State, Health Care Workers To Show Proof Of Vaccination Or Testing

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All California state employees, as well as workers in health care and high-risk congregate settings, must show proof of full vaccination or be tested at least once per week, Governor Newsom announced Monday.

The new policy for state workers will take effect on Aug. 2 and testing will be phased in over the next few weeks. The new policy for health care workers and congregate facilities is set to take effect on Aug. 9, and health care facilities will have until Aug. 23 to come into full compliance. 

Unvaccinated workers will be subject to at least weekly COVID-19 testing and will be required to wear appropriate personal protection equipment (PPE). This requirement also applies to high-risk congregate settings, including senior residential facilities, homeless shelters and jails. 

“We are now dealing with a pandemic of the unvaccinated, and it’s going to take renewed efforts to protect Californians from the dangerous Delta variant,” said Newsom in a statement. “As the state’s largest employer, we are leading by example and requiring all state and health care workers to show proof of vaccination or be tested regularly, and we are encouraging local governments and businesses to do the same.”

Despite California leading the nation in vaccinations, with more than 44 million doses administered and 75% of the eligible population has received at least one dose, the state is seeing increasing numbers of people who refused to get the vaccine being admitted to the ICU and dying.

“The Delta variant is up to 60% more infectious than the Alpha strain but many times more infectious than the original COVID-19 strain. If you have been waiting to get vaccinated, now is the time,” said Health and Human Services Secretary Dr. Mark Ghaly in a statement.

As of last week, California’s statewide case rate more than quadrupled from a low in May of 1.9 cases per 100,000 residents a day to at least 9.5 cases per 100,000.

The vast majority of new cases are among the unvaccinated, with 600% higher case rates among the unvaccinated than for those who are vaccinated, according to the state. 

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Los Angeles County COVID-19 Cases Increase 80% In One Week

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Los Angeles County continues to see a rapid rise in COVID-19 transmission countywide with cases doubling over the last 10 days as the Delta variant spreads.

The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health confirmed 2,767 new cases of COVID-19 on Thursday an 80% increase over last week, according to the department. 

On Friday, 3,058 additional cases were reported, marking the third day in a row with more than 2,500 cases reported in a day, according to Public Health.

The County’s daily average case rate, with a 7-day lag, is now 12.9 cases per 100,000 people, an increase from last week’s rate of 7.1 cases per 100,000.

There are 645 people with COVID-19 currently hospitalized and 22% of these people are in the ICU. Last week, there were 406 people hospitalized with COVID-19 illness.

“Public Health has detailed the rise of the Delta variant among strains sequenced in the Los Angeles County area for weeks,” department officials said. “While emerging data affirms that fully vaccinated people are well protected from severe infections with Delta variants, people with only one vaccine are not as well-protected, and there is increasing evidence that a small number of fully vaccinated individuals can become infected and may be able to infect others.”

From July 11 to July 17, the number of sequenced Delta variants was 201, 84% of all sequences collected that week. 

This is consistent with the rise of Delta nationwide: earlier this week, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimated that Delta strains accounted for 83% of circulating COVID-19. Given that about 4 million residents in L.A. County are not yet vaccinated, the risk of increased spread of this variant within L.A. County remains high, according to Public Health.

As of July 18, more than 10,845,531 doses of a COVID-19 vaccine have been administered to people across Los Angeles County. Of these, 6,013,569 were first doses and 4,831,962 were second doses.

88% of L.A. County seniors 65 and over, 70% of residents 16 and over, and 69% of residents 12 and over have received one dose of a vaccine including 39% of L.A. County teens between the ages of 12 and 17. 

Of the nearly 10.3 million L.A. County residents, including those who are not yet eligible for the vaccine, 52% are fully vaccinated and 59% have received at least one dose.

“As more people have gotten vaccinated, the proportion of total cases that are among those vaccinated has also increased,” public health officials said. “This is to be expected because as more people are vaccinated, the number of fully vaccinated people becoming infected will increase.”

 In June, fully vaccinated people represented 20% of all cases diagnosed among L.A. County residents, while unvaccinated and partially vaccinated people accounted for 80% of cases.

Public Health estimates if the 52% of County residents that are fully vaccinated were not vaccinated, the number of new cases would perhaps be double because everyone would instead have the same risk of infection as unvaccinated people do. While County numbers have been going up, they would be much higher if there weren’t as many people fully vaccinated.

In Los Angeles County, everyone 2 years of age and older must wear a mask in all indoor public places, regardless of their vaccination status. 

“While the County does not require masking at private gatherings where unvaccinated or immunocompromised people are present, universal masking in these scenarios, particularly indoors, is the best way to protect everyone,” department officials said.

To find a vaccination site in Los Angeles County, visit here.

Note: This story has been updated with new case data from the Department of Public Health.

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