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Over 1 Million COVID-19 Vaccine Doses Given In L.A. County As Supply Scarcity Continues

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As public health officials face continued scarcity of supply, Los Angeles County has reached the milestone of over 1 million COVID-19 vaccine doses administered.

The most recent figures indicate that more than 1.05 million vaccine doses have been administered in the county to date as of Friday, including just more than 104,000 second doses, according to Dr. Paul Simon, chief science officer for the county Department of Public Health.

About 2.6% of the county’s population of people aged 16 and older have been fully vaccinated so far, with 11% of the over the 16-and-over population receiving at least one dose, according to Simon.

Appointments for the first doses will be difficult to come by next week. In fact, at the five county-operated large-scale vaccination sites, a limited number of first doses will be administered on Monday, with the rest of the week’s appointments reserved solely for people in need of their second dose of the medication, Simon said.

“Unfortunately, the biggest issue we continue to face in our ability to vaccinate is the scarcity of supply and variability in the amount of vaccine we receive from week-to-week,” he said. “This has been an issue across the country and it makes planning challenging.”

The slow progress of the vaccination program has led to some residents getting creative in finding ways to manipulate the appointment system to get access to the shots.

Some people who aren’t yet eligible to get the vaccine have taken to lingering at vaccination sites on the slight chance there will be leftover doses at the end of the day that must be administered to avoid wasting them.

Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer said this week there have been issues with people claiming to be caretakers of disabled children and showing up at vaccine sites with a generic, Xeroxed letter identifying them as such.

Simon on Friday outlined another way some people have tried to jump the line to get vaccines.

According to Simon, people who received emails from the county about scheduling an appointment for a second dose of the vaccine have been sharing the unique web link included in the emails with friends. Those people “are then scheduling a first-dose appointment even though they are not eligible to be vaccinated at this time.”

“It is important for people to understand that these actions are taking away vaccination access from high-risk people who are eligible for the vaccine right now,” Simon said. “When we identify these appointments, they are being canceled. I want the public to be aware that persons who are not eligible and show up at one of our sites with one of these shared appointments will be turned away.”

He said he didn’t have numbers on how many people have tried to jump the line in that fashion, but “it was happening enough so that we were noticing it very clearly.”

“In some cases, it was done very deliberately — I think you could characterize it as cheating,” he said. “And in other cases, I think people just, you know, weren’t necessarily viewing it that way, they were just looking at every opportunity to get vaccinated.”

Simon said the county was trying to figure out a way to amend the computer system to prevent such appointments from being made.

According to Simon, the county received 184,625 doses of vaccine this week, and Ferrer said earlier this week the county anticipates a larger allotment next week, possibly over 200,000, but the size of the shipments week- to-week remain a mystery.

Simon expressed hope that supplies would continue to increase, and hailed the pending establishment of a Federal Emergency Management Agency vaccination site at Cal State Los Angeles, which will supplement the local availability of doses. The possible approval in coming weeks of the Johnson & Johnson single-dose vaccine will also be a major boon he said.

On Friday, Public Health confirmed 226 new deaths and 4,761 new cases of COVID-19. To date, the department has identified 1,138,764 positive cases of COVID-19 across all areas of L.A. County and a total of 17,764 deaths.

According to state figures, there were 4,607 people hospitalized due to COVID-19 in the county as of Friday, including 1,276 people in intensive care. In early January, the hospitalization number topped 8,000.

COVID-19 is responsible for more than 17,000 people passing away and thousands more becoming seriously ill in Los Angeles County. More than 72% of all our COVID-19 deaths occurred in people 65 years old or older.

“Given the high mortality rates among older individuals, please do not make appointments for vaccinations if it is not your turn,” public health officials said “Help us make sure that our most vulnerable elderly residents are prioritized for the limited available vaccine.”

As appointments become available, residents with internet access and a computer are urged to use Public Health’s www.VaccinateLACounty.com. For those without access to a computer or the internet or with disabilities, a call center is open to help schedule appointments at 833-540-0473, daily from 8:00 a.m. to 8:30 p.m.

Note: City News Service contributed to this report.

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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