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Mass COVID-19 Vaccination Site Opens At Cal State L.A.

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Cal State LA COVID-19 Vaccination Site
The first resident to receive a COVID-19 vaccine at the Cal State L.A. site. Photo Courtesy of Cal OES

A COVID-19 vaccination site established in a partnership between the federal government and the state opened Tuesday at California State University, Los Angeles (CSULA), one of two in the state and the first phase of an effort expected to spread to 100 sites across the nation. 

The CSULA site — along with a similar site at the Oakland-Alameda Coliseum — will be co-run by the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the state of California through the governor’s Office of Emergency Services. 

The site is expected to have an ultimate capacity of administering 6,000 doses per day, although it was unclear how many doses the facility would initially be allocated. Shortages in supply have hampered vaccination efforts at county- and city-operated sites. 

A team of more than 200 soldiers arrived in the Los Angeles area last week to help staff the vaccination site. 

The team was deployed from Fort Carson in Colorado. Gov. Gavin Newsom hailed the partnership with the federal government earlier this month, calling it a critical step in improving the speed and efficiency of administering vaccines, particularly in traditionally under-served communities. 

“Equity is the call of this moment,” Newsom said. “The reason this site was chosen was the framework of making sure communities that are often left behind are not left behind, but prioritized in terms of the administration of these vaccines. As a consequence, we are blessed not only by the announcement of this partnership with the Biden administration but their full federal support in terms of their allocation of the resources to help us move forward with the distribution of these vaccines.” 

Acting FEMA Administrator Bob Fenton said the two California sites are “perfect examples of how FEMA is working around the clock to support state-led, federally supported vaccine delivery.” 

FEMA will provide resources and federal staffing support, as well as operational support. 

“Cal State L.A. is ready to work with President Joe Biden, Gov. Gavin Newsom and their administrations to provide badly needed vaccinations,” said Jose Gomez, the university’s executive vice president and provost. “Our students and alumni live in communities with some of the highest COVID-19 infection rates per capita in Los Angeles County.” 

Officials said the two California locations were chosen because they’re in communities that have been disproportionately impacted by COVID-19 and are home to essential workers who have borne the brunt of keeping the economy open over the past year. 

“We are grateful to President Biden and Governor Newsom for marshaling federal and state resources to significantly increase our ability to vaccinate our residents in Los Angeles County,” said Hilda Solis, chair of the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors. “Our county and in particular our Latinx residents have been absolutely devastated by COVID-19. Establishing this large scale federal-state community vaccination center on the Cal State L.A. campus, in the heart of Los Angeles County and in a hard-hit community, is a welcome signal that we are ramping up at the federal, state and local level with the practical, boots-on-the-ground solutions we need to put an end to this deadly pandemic.” 

Metrolink is offering a direct connection to the site. Metrolink’s Cal State LA Station is on the San Bernardino Line. Riders can reach the walk-up vaccination location by taking the elevator or stairs from the train platform to the university transit center and following directional signs to Structure A. Shuttles will take people from the transit center to the vaccination site. `

`With a county this size, offering transportation options to vaccination sites is critical,” said Solis, a Metrolink board member. “… I am grateful that Metrolink will serve as a vital and accessible link for so many of our residents who rely on public transportation.” 

Registration for vaccine appointments at the Cal State L.A. site will be available here.

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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