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COVID-19 Cases Among Those Experiencing Homelessness Declines In L.A. County

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COVID19 Coronavirus Los Angeles County (1)

COVID-19 cases among those experiencing homelessness in Los Angeles County are continuing to decline, public health officials said Thursday.

The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health has confirmed 88 new deaths and 933 new cases of COVID-19 on Thursday. To date, the department has identified 1,212,586 positive cases of COVID-19 across all areas of L.A. County and a total of 22,664 deaths.

There are 861 people with COVID-19 currently hospitalized and 26% of these people are in the intensive care unit (ICU). Testing results are available for more than 5,984,000 individuals with 19% of people testing positive. Thursday’s daily test positivity rate is 1.8%.

Cases among people experiencing homelessness have dropped from the peak of 620 weekly cases during late-December, to 58 new cases reported this week, according to Public Health.

The number of new cases reported this week includes 48 cases from previous weeks that were newly identified and were included in the new case totals. 

To date, Public Health has identified 7,061 cases among people experiencing homelessness, and 194 people who were experiencing homelessness have died from COVID-19. 

Of the people experiencing homelessness who passed away, 90 were sheltered, 65 were unsheltered, and for 39 people who passed away, their sheltered status was unknown, according to the department. 

The County continues working with partner organizations to reduce virus transmission and protect people experiencing homelessness from COVID-19 infection, according to Public Health.

While there are many shelters throughout the county, COVID-19 has created a wide variety of challenges for them. Hope of the Valley Rescue Mission, a nonprofit organization operating nine locations throughout L.A. County, is one of the many places unhoused Angelenos rely on for shelter, COVID-19 testing and other services.

Hope of the Valley CEO Ken Craft said in a previous story their shelters, such as the one located in Van Nuys, have had to reduce their housing capacity to 70% in order to comply with the new health regulations made necessary by the pandemic.

Nonprofits are continuing to work across L.A. County to protect those experiencing homelessness from contracting COVID-19.

On Monday, Los Angeles County officially entered the “red” tier, or substantial transmission, paving the way for additional reopening.

Public health officials said Tuesday if the decline in cases continues, L.A. County may enter into the next tier, “orange,” as early as April. 

“The success of the County’s recovery and the safety of at-risk residents and workers, depends on businesses and residents closely following the rules,” said Dr. Barbara Ferrer, director of public health in a statement on Thursday. “If our COVID-19 transmission decreases, lives are saved, and we will be allowed to continue to open more businesses and ease activity-specific restrictions in the future. We all experienced what happens when public health safety measures are not followed closely. We have to avoid increases that can easily lead to more people suffering and take us backward on our recovery journey. As more people are vaccinated, universal cooperation with safety measures is what will keep us moving forward with our recovery journey.”

Once in the next tier, bars can open outdoors, and other businesses can increase capacity, according to the guidelines.

An estimated 5 million residents, about half the county’s population, are now eligible for a COVID-19 vaccine, according to Public Health.

Starting March 15, those with certain disabilities and underlying health conditions can receive a shot, however, supply remains limited, according to Ferrer. 

Vaccinations are scheduled on sector-specific days for eligible groups at the large capacity sites.  

For more information on COVID-19 vaccination in L.A. County, visit here.

Coronavirus

California Keeps Mask Mandate Until June 15 Despite CDC Guidelines

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CDC Mask Guidelines

California public health officials announced Monday the state is keeping the current mask mandate until June 15 despite updated federal guidance for those fully vaccinated.

Dr. Mark Ghaly, Health and Human Services secretary, said California is expected to modify the mask mandate in June when the Blueprint for a Safer Economy is no longer in effect.

On Thursday, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Director Rochelle Walensky said those who are fully vaccinated can participate in indoor and outdoor activities, large or small, without wearing a mask or physically distancing.

Ghaly added the state wants to give local governments and businesses more time to implement the relaxed mask rules. 

“This is in no way saying that the science or direction of the CDC’s guidelines is wrong. It’s just giving us some extra time to have this implemented with a high degree of integrity,” Ghaly said.

Supervisor Kathryn Barger sent a letter Friday asking the state to align with federal guidelines on face coverings.

“The State of California now boasts the lowest COVID-19 positivity rate in the nation. Yet, the state still maintains some of the strictest COVID-19 restrictions in the Country,” Barger wrote.

Los Angeles County cannot loosen its existing mandates until the state regulations are updated, according to the supervisor. 

Major retailers, including Walmart, Trader Joe’s, Starbucks and Costco, have dropped their mask requirement for fully vaccinated customers.

In order to be considered fully vaccinated, residents must wait two weeks after their second dose of the Moderna or Pfizer vaccines or the first dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, according to the CDC.

Anyone 12 years and older living or working in Los Angeles County can now get vaccinated. For more information, visit here.

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City Of Los Angeles Expands COVID-19 Vaccination Site Hours To Increase Access

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COVID19 Vaccine Los Angeles County 2 (1)

Mayor Eric Garcetti announced a series of steps to expand COVID-19 vaccine access among Angelenos at Los Angeles-City run sites on Monday.

 Efforts include extending hours to 8 p.m. at nine fixed City-run sites; administering all three approved vaccines at mass vaccination centers; and offering doses appointment-free across Los Angeles. These increases in operations come on the heels of the announcement by public health professionals that 12 to 15-year-olds are eligible to get vaccinated.

“We can end this pandemic, restore public health, and rebuild our economy, but only if we can put vaccines within reach of every Angeleno, regardless of income, zip code, or neighborhood,” said Garcetti in a statement. “With expanded hours and growing eligibility, we are doing everything we can to reach residents who have yet to get vaccinated — and make it as easy and safe as possible to deliver doses across our communities.”  

To get the vaccines into more arms across Los Angeles, the City eliminated the appointment requirement and piloted evening hours earlier this month. After seeing a 200% increase in demand for evening vaccinations over the last two weeks, the City will extend hours until 8 p.m. at all of its permanent locations, except for Dodger Stadium, which will remain open until 4 p.m. 

All fixed sites will operate from Monday to Saturday, with the exception of Dodger Stadium, which will permanently close on Thursday, May 20. 

Most mobile locations will operate between Tuesday and Saturday from the hours of 9 am to 3 p.m., except for two-night clinics at South L.A. Wetlands Park and Sylmar Recreation Center, which will run until 9 p.m. 

Angelenos who visit any fixed site with extended hours will be able to choose from any of the three vaccines currently available: Pfizer, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson.

This week, City vaccination sites will have the capacity to administer roughly 250,000 doses to Angelenos across 10 permanent sites and each of the Mobile Outreach for Vaccine Equity (MOVE) clinics.

Equity remains a key focus of the City’s vaccination program. The MOVE initiative delivers doses directly to neighborhoods most impacted by the pandemic, administering 111,719 so far. This week, the City will deploy 10 mobile teams, serving residents in South L.A., East L.A. and parts of the Valley, including South Park, Chesterfield Square/Harvard Park, Vermont Vista, Watts, Boyle Heights, Wilmington, Van Nuys, Sylmar and others. 

Pre-registration is not required, but Angelenos who wish to plan ahead can visit here to sign up or find the nearest location. 

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Supervisor Barger Urges State To Align With CDC Mask Guidelines

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Supervisor Kathryn Barger sent a letter Friday asking the state to align with federal guidelines on face coverings for those who are fully vaccinated. 

Barger urged Governor Gavin Newsom to modify California’s mask mandate to follow the protocols announced by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on Thursday.

“As you know, the Centers for Disease Control has announced that it is now safe for fully vaccinated Americans to not wear masks or practice physical distancing in most situations,” Barger wrote. “Additionally, the State of California now boasts the lowest COVID-19 positivity rate in the nation. Yet, the State still maintains some of the strictest COVID-19 restrictions in the Country.”

Los Angeles County cannot loosen its existing mandates until the state regulations are updated, according to the supervisor. 

Barger said it is appropriate for the California Department of Public Health and the Division of Occupational Safety and Health to change the existing distancing and masking requirements in alignment with the new guidelines. 

CDC Director Rochelle Walensky said at a White House briefing on Thursday anyone who is fully vaccinated can participate in indoor and outdoor activities, large or small, without wearing a mask or physically distancing.

“If you are fully vaccinated, you can start doing the things that you had stopped doing because of the pandemic,” Walensky said. “We have all longed for this moment when we can get back to some sense of normalcy.”

In order to be considered fully vaccinated, residents must wait two weeks after their second dose of the Moderna or Pfizer vaccines or the first dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, according to the CDC.

“Los Angeles County is committed to implementing safe, sensible directives that still protect our recovery and prevent regression to high positive case rates,” Barger wrote. “We especially want to ensure protections for workers, particularly those who work indoors, including on public transportation and in schools, large venues, and congregate housing such as jails, shelters and skilled nursing facilities.”

The L.A. County Department of Public Health continues to offer vaccinations without appointments at County-run vaccination sites while supply lasts. 

Anyone 12 years and older living or working in Los Angeles County can now get vaccinated. For more information, visit here.

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