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L.A. County Might Reach Red Tier Criteria For Reopening ‘As Early As Next Week’

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As Los Angeles County COVID-19 cases continue to decline, public health officials said Wednesday the county might meet the criteria needed for the “red” tier of reopening as early as next week. 

L.A. County remains in the most-restrictive “purple” tier, with the seven-day average number of cases just slightly above the number of cases to move into the next tier, according to Dr. Barbara Ferrer, director of the Department of Public Health.

As of Wednesday, Los Angeles County has a seven-day average of 7.2 cases per 100,000 residents, barely above the required 7 cases per 100,000 residents, Ferrer said. 

“It is very possible we will enter the red tier as early as next week,” she added. 

The seven-day average positivity rate for Los Angeles County is 3.5%, which is already below what is needed for the “red” tier. 

A third metric also must be met for larger counties, the health equity quartile, to ensure that the test positivity rates in its most disadvantaged neighborhoods do not significantly lag behind its overall county test positivity rate.

In Los Angeles County, the equity testing rate is 5.1%, just below the required 8% to move into the red tier.

When the county meets that case average, the number must stay below the guidelines for two weeks for additional schools and businesses to reopen. 

Middle and high schools can open for grades 7-12 once the county is in the red tier and the campuses also implement the school reopening guidelines.

Ferrer said Wednesday it is “very likely” these grades could be allowed to reopen in the coming weeks. 

Students from kindergarten to sixth grade were just recently allowed to return for in-person learning, once L.A. County met the required case requirement.

The threshold for grades 7-12 to return is seven cases per 100,000 residents, with L.A. County remaining above that guideline as of Wednesday.

In addition to schools, more businesses are allowed to reopen in the red tier.

Gyms and fitness centers can open indoors with 10% maximum capacity, according to the guidance. 

Movie theatres are also allowed to open indoors with 25% maximum capacity or 100 people, whichever is fewer. 

Museums, zoos and aquariums can also reopen in the red tier at 25% capacity. The current purple tier allows these businesses to operate outdoors. 

Indoor dining can be allowed under the next tier, however, all of these changes are subject to the approval of the L.A. County Department of Public Health.

On Wednesday, 116 additional deaths and 1,759 COVID-19 cases were reported in L.A. County, according to Ferrer.

The total number of deaths is now 21,669 and the cumulative number of COVID-19 cases has reached 1,195,913, according to Public Health. 

There are about 1,500 COVID-19 patients hospitalized, compared to an average of 800 in the fall, according to the public health director. 

A total of 27 cases of the United Kingdom (U.K.) variant have been identified and one case of the Brazil variant confirmed last week, according to Ferrer. 

The California variant is “widely spreading” in Los Angeles County, with 239 confirmed cases as of Wednesday, Ferrer said. 

On Monday, additional essential workers, including teachers, first responders and those in the food and agriculture industry, became eligible to receive a COVID-19 vaccine in Los Angeles County

Public health officials estimate more than 547,000 people are working in the food and agriculture sector and are expected to be eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine, 668,000 people in the childcare and education sector and 154,000 law enforcement and emergency responders in L.A. County.

COVID-19 vaccine remains limited in L.A. County, according to public health officials. 

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

Coronavirus

Public Health Prepares For Increased Demand As Residents Over 16 Become Eligible For COVID-19 Vaccine

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Public health officials are preparing for a surge in demand for a COVID-19 vaccine as all residents over the age of 16 become eligible on Thursday, as supply decreases due to the pause of Johnson & Johnson.

Dr. Barbara Ferrer, director of the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health, said Wednesday the newly eligible group includes nearly 5 million residents, with about 1.5 million already receiving at least one dose of a vaccine. 

All residents over 16 can make an appointment starting Wednesday on the state’s MyTurn website, following the expansion by the City of L.A. earlier this week. 

The county paused the use of the J&J vaccine on Tuesday out of an abundance of caution after the recommendation from the Federal Drug Administration (FDA) and U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). 

Ferrer said the blood clotting reaction is “one in a million,” but urged those who have experienced any unusual symptoms to contact Public Health. 

More than 6.8 million doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine have been administered in the U.S. The CDC and FDA are reviewing data involving six reported U.S. cases of a rare and severe type of blood clot in individuals after receiving the J&J vaccine. 

The pause is in effect until the FDA and CDC complete their review, which is expected to take several days, according to the department. 

“We are grateful to the researchers and scientists working to ensure that all medications or vaccines, including the COVID-19 vaccines, meet the highest safety standards,” Ferrer said.

Public health officials are prioritizing new appointments for those who were scheduled to receive a J&J vaccine, according to Ferrer.  

The county received an allocation of about 323,470 doses of the vaccines this week, an estimated 80,000 doses less than the week prior. About 19,000 doses of the allocation are the J&J vaccine, according to Public Health. 

As of April 14, over 3.4 million doses have been administered in L.A. County, including over 1.9 million second doses, according to the public health director.

On Wednesday, 57 new deaths and 411 additional cases were reported in Los Angeles County. A total of 23,553 deaths and 1,226,964 cases have been confirmed across the county since the beginning of the pandemic, according to the department. 

For more information on vaccination efforts in L.A. County and to make an appointment, visit here

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Los Angeles County Remains In ‘Orange’ Tier As COVID-19 Cases, Hospitalizations Decline

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Los Angeles County is remaining in the “orange” tier of reopening as COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations continue to decline. 

The L.A. County Department of Public Health confirmed 23 new deaths and 448 new cases of COVID-19 on Tuesday. To date, 1,226,596 positive cases of COVID-19 and a total of 23,498 deaths have been confirmed across all areas of L.A. County.

There are 471 people with COVID-19 currently hospitalized and 25% of these people are in the ICU. Testing results are available for more than 6,223,000 individuals with 18% of people testing positive.

L.A. County is in the orange tier of the State’s Blueprint for a Safer Economy that allows for permitted activities in several key sectors with safety measures in place. In order to move to the less restrictive yellow tier, the County’s case rate must be less than 2 new cases per 100,000 people and test positivity must be less than 2%.

Tuesday, the State released updated numbers; L.A. County’s adjusted case rate slightly increased from 3.1 new cases per 100,000 people to 3.2 new cases per 100,000. The test positivity rate remained at 1.5% and in areas with the fewest health affirming resources, L.A. County’s test positivity rate remained at 1.9%.

The State plans to fully reopen with safety measures on June 15 if there is enough vaccine supply for Californians 16 years and older to be vaccinated and hospitalization rates remain stable and low, especially among fully vaccinated Californians.

“We have moderate transmission in L.A. County, so it remains necessary to continue taking steps to prevent increases in cases to keep our recovery from stalling,” said Dr. Barbara Ferrer, director of public health in a statement. “One important tool for reducing transmission are vaccines. And while we all need to follow the FDA and CDC recommendation to pause the use of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine as they conduct their review, we encourage residents to keep their appointments to get vaccinated with the Moderna and Pfizer vaccine. We are grateful to the researchers and scientists working to ensure that all medications or vaccines, including the COVID-19 vaccines, meet the highest safety standards.”

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued a joint recommendation on Tuesday to pause the use of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine after reports that six women between the ages of 18 and 48 developed unusual types of blood clots 6 to 13 days after receiving the vaccine. 

Out of an abundance of caution, Los Angeles County is following the recommendation of the FDA and CDC to pause the use of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine until the FDA and CDC complete their review, which is expected to take several days, public health officials said.

Right now, these adverse events appear to be extremely rare with nearly 7,000,000 people receiving the Johnson & Johnson vaccine in the United States to date. COVID-19 vaccine safety is a top priority and we are working with healthcare providers across the county to ensure they are using screening tools and reporting adverse events, according to the department. 

People who received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine within the last three weeks should report severe headaches, abdominal or leg pain, and shortness of breath to their medical provider or seek medical care. People who don’t have a medical provider can call 2-1-1 to connect with a healthcare provider.

Public Health notes the pause in the use of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine should not have a major impact on this week’s vaccine appointments for the County. Out of the 323,470 total doses allocated to the County this week, only 19,600 were Johnson & Johnson doses. Vaccine providers in Los Angeles County will contact patients that were scheduled to receive the Johnson & Johnson vaccine about rescheduling or providing a new appointment for Pfizer or Moderna vaccine. 

Changes will be made to the MyTurn website starting tomorrow to allow residents 16 and older to begin to schedule vaccination appointments for Thursday and later. Youth 16 and 17 can only receive the Pfizer vaccine and need to sign up at a site that offers this vaccine, according to the department. 

For information about how to make a COVID-19 vaccination appointment, visit here.

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L.A. County, City To Pause Johnson & Johnson Vaccine After Advisory

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Both the County and City of Los Angeles are pausing the use of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine after an advisory from the Federal Drug Administration (FDA) on Tuesday.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the FDA released a joint statement reporting a “rare and severe type of blood clot” in six individuals after receiving the J&J vaccine. 

The City of L.A. is set to pause the use of the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine Tuesday, until further notice, at all sites throughout the City, said Deputy Mayor Jeff Gorell. 

Any previous appointments made Tuesday are expected to be honored with another vaccine, according to Gorell.

The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health released a statement later Tuesday morning saying the county is also pausing the J&J vaccine.

 This pause will last until the FDA and CDC complete their review, which is expected to take several days. Vaccine providers in Los Angeles County will contact patients about rescheduling or providing a new appointment for the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine, according to Public Health.

As of April 12, more than 6.8 million doses of the Johnson & Johnson (Janssen ) vaccine have been administered in the U.S. The CDC and FDA are reviewing data involving six reported U.S. cases of a rare and severe type of blood clot in individuals after receiving the J&J vaccine. 

In these cases, a type of blood clot called cerebral venous sinus thrombosis (CVST) was seen in combination with low levels of blood platelets (thrombocytopenia). 

All six cases occurred among women between the ages of 18 and 48, and symptoms occurred six to 13 days after vaccination, according to the statement. 

“Treatment of this specific type of blood clot is different from the treatment that might typically be administered,” the statement said. “Usually, an anticoagulant drug called heparin is used to treat blood clots. In this setting, administration of heparin may be dangerous, and alternative treatments need to be given.”

CDC will convene a meeting of the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) on Wednesday to further review these cases and assess their potential significance. FDA will review that analysis as it also investigates these cases. 

Until that process is complete, the agencies are recommending a pause in the use of this vaccine out of an abundance of caution. 

“This is important, in part, to ensure that the health care provider community is aware of the potential for these adverse events and can plan for proper recognition and management due to the unique treatment required with this type of blood clot,” the statement said.

Right now, these adverse events appear to be extremely rare, according to the agencies. 

“COVID-19 vaccine safety is a top priority for the federal government, and we take all reports of health problems following COVID-19 vaccination very seriously,” the statement said. “People who have received the J&J vaccine who develop severe headache, abdominal pain, leg pain, or shortness of breath within three weeks after vaccination should contact their health care provider.”

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

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