Los Angeles County COVID-19 cases are continuing to decline with the county eligible for the “orange” tier of reopening as soon as April.
On Tuesday, California released updated metrics for the Blueprint for a Safer Economy, with L.A. County getting closer to the criteria needed for the next tier, just weeks after entering “red” for the first time.
L.A. County’s adjusted case rate has dropped from 4.1 new cases per 100,000 people to 3.7 new cases per 100,000 people, according to the state.
If the County continues to maintain current levels or declines in the case rate and test positivity rate, it is possible in early April for the County to move into the “orange” tier.
“It is certainly good news that we are making progress and we appreciate compliance with Public Health directives from our L.A. County businesses and residents; we are confident that these efforts contribute to lower case rates,” said Dr. Barbara Ferrer, director of public health in a statement. “However, we remain concerned about potential risks that can thwart our progress. The risks include increased circulation of variants of concern, increasing cases across much of Europe and in many states, re-openings that are sloppy, and unsafe actions taken by individuals related to spring break and spring holidays.”
L.A. County needs to remain in the “red” tier for three weeks prior to being assigned, according to the guidelines.
Once the County moves into the “orange” tier, bars are allowed to open outdoors and other businesses are allowed to increase capacity, upon approval of the L.A. County Department of Public Health.
On Tuesday, 66 new deaths and 490 additional cases of COVID-19 were reported by Public Health. To date, the department has identified 1,215,129 positive cases of COVID-19 across all areas of L.A. County and a total of 22,871 deaths.
There are 713 people with COVID-19 currently hospitalized and 25% of these people are in the ICU. The number of daily hospitalizations has returned to pre-surge levels, according to public health officials.
Testing results are available for more than 6,022,000 individuals with 19% of people testing positive, according to the department.
As more businesses are allowed to open, inspections are being conducted to ensure COVID-19 protocols are followed, according to Public Health.
From March 15 to March 21, health inspectors visited a total of 1,224 businesses, including restaurants, markets, hair salons and barbershops, hotels, garment manufacturers and shopping malls.
Inspectors noted some businesses had not completed and posted their protocols and needed to improve physical distancing and infection control safety measures, according to Public Health.
Of the businesses inspected, 56% of hotels, 71% of hair salons and barbershops, and 80% of restaurants completed and posted their protocols, and 86% of restaurants and 87% of markets complied with physical distancing.
Only 52% of garment manufacturers complied with physical distancing and infection control safety measures, according to the department.
“Overall, the compliance inspections revealed that while the majority of businesses were in compliance, there is significant room for improvement,” said public health officials.
The department encourages L.A. County businesses to participate in the COVID-19 Safety Compliance Certification Program.
The program offers business owners and employees the opportunity to take free online training about COVID-19 infection control protocols and allows businesses to self-certify that they are fully implementing the protocols in compliance with infection control and physical distancing requirements.
To date, a total of 23,765 employees and employers have completed the training, according to Public Health.
L.A. County Sees Increase In COVID-19 Cases Among Staff, Residents At Nursing Facilities
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.
California To Require State, Health Care Workers To Show Proof Of Vaccination Or Testing
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.
Los Angeles County COVID-19 Cases Increase 80% In One Week
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.