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Los Angeles County Expands Reopenings As COVID-19 Transmission Remains Low

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Los Angeles County has entered the “yellow” tier of the Blueprint for a Safer Economy on Thursday as COVID-19 transmission remains low. 

On March 28, L.A. County was seeing 424 cases a day. A month later, on April 28, the number of new cases dropped 35% to 276 cases a day, according to the Department of Public Health. 

Over the same time interval, daily hospitalizations dropped 37%. Daily deaths dropped dramatically by 82% over the same period, from 17 on March 28 to three on April 28, according to the department. 

“We, like many of you, are enthusiastic about the opportunities to get out more and do the activities we love and missed. We have reopened most sectors to some degree – and with all of the re-openings, more intermingling is taking place among members of the community,” said Dr. Barbara Ferrer, director of public health in a statement. “Transmission can happen more easily and is more likely where there are crowds and unvaccinated people particularly indoors. We also must be aware that the more this virus spreads, the more opportunities it has to mutate – and the more it mutates, the greater the chance there will be a variant that can spread more quickly or cause more harm to the people it infects.”

Changes to the Health Officer Order took effect Thursday, reflecting the County’s move into the “yellow” tier allowing for increased occupancy limits across a wide range of sectors with required safety modifications.

Fitness facilities, indoor dining, cardrooms and racetracks, movie theaters, family entertainment centers, breweries, wineries, and craft distilleries can expand indoor occupancy to 50%.  

Bars establishments are now allowed to open for indoor services at a maximum capacity of 25% or 100 people, whichever is fewer, with no counter seating/service. Amusement parks and fairs can increase capacity to 35%, and waterparks can expand to 40% capacity. Museums and aquariums can increase indoor capacity to 75%. 

Outdoor live performances and events can increase occupancy to 67% of capacity, while the occupancy limits at indoor live events depend on the total capacity of each venue and the vaccination and testing status of attendees.

 Other sectors where capacity limits have increased include private informal gatherings, where the occupancy limit has increased to 50% capacity or 50 people if indoors, whichever is fewer; outdoor gatherings are limited to 100 people. 

At community sporting events, participation is restricted to 500 people per hour and a total of 1,500 people; if everyone is vaccinated or has tested negative at an outdoor community sporting event, the capacity increases to 3000 people. 

Office-based businesses and workspaces should limit occupancy to 75% of capacity unless all staff is vaccinated. Distancing and masking requirements remain in effect at worksites per CalOSHA requirements. 

At indoor malls, shopping centers, retail stores, hair salons, barbershops, personal care providers, libraries, and limited services, capacity remains limited to 75% to allow for at least 6 feet of distancing among staff and customers.

 On Thursday, Public Health confirmed 19 new deaths and 414 additional cases of COVID-19. To date, Public Health identified 1,234,746 positive cases of COVID-19 across all areas of L.A. County and a total of 23,966 deaths.

There are 387 people with COVID-19 currently hospitalized and 24% of these people are in the ICU. COVID-19 testing results are available for more than 6,546,000 individuals with 18% of people testing positive. Thursday’s daily test positivity rate is 0.7%.

 As of May 2, more than 8,096,752 doses of a COVID-19 vaccine have been administered to people across Los Angeles County. Of these, 5,013,679 were first doses and 3,083,073 were second doses. 

Overall, 39% of L.A. County residents are fully vaccinated. By age group two-thirds of seniors 65 and older and one-third of adults 16 to 64 are fully vaccinated.

Among people 65 and older, 82% have received at least one dose of the vaccine. Overall, 52% of residents 16 to 64 years old have received at least one dose of the vaccine. Since 

“When most of the community is vaccinated, and therefore immune from having or spreading a bad infection, transmission drops low enough that it becomes very unlikely the few unvaccinated people will have contact with an infected person and get sick,” public health officials said. “The exact number the County needs to vaccinate to achieve community immunity is unknown– but what we do know is that reaching it requires everyone who can get vaccinated to do it.”

COVID-19 vaccinations are available at County-run sites and many community sites without an appointment. For more information, visit here.

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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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