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Over 1,400 COVID-19 Cases Reported In L.A. County Sunday



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Over 1,400 COVID-19 cases have been reported in Los Angeles County on Sunday, with a lag in weekend testing expected to reflect lower numbers. 

The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health reported Sunday 1,465 new COVID-19 cases and 93 new deaths due to COVID-19.

To date, a total of 1,180,485 COVID-19 cases and 19,885 deaths have been reported across the county, according to Public Health.

The number of coronavirus cases in county hospitals dropped to 2,369, with 30% of those patients in intensive care. Hospitalizations have been dropping steadily since peaking at more than 8,000 in early January.

Cases and hospitalizations have declined over 85% since the peak of the holiday surge, however, public health officials are still urging caution.

The impact of the recent holiday weekend and Super Bowl have yet to be felt in the county, according to Public Health.

On Saturday, the department confirmed two additional cases of United Kingdom (U.K.) COVID-19 variant B.1.1.7, with 14 total cases.

This variant is known to spread more easily and quickly than other variants and is circulating in the state and county, according to Public Health.

“With the U.K. variant circulating in the County, we will likely see more variant cases identified in the County. We must remain diligent with our safety measures even though we see overall decreases in cases, hospitalizations and deaths. Let’s keep our guard up because we know letting our guard down will lead to more cases and, tragically, more deaths again,” said Dr. Barbara Ferrer, director of public health in a statement. 

In January 2021, scientists from the U.K. reported evidence that suggests the B.1.1.7 variant may be associated with an increased risk of death compared with other variants. More studies are needed to confirm this finding. 

“It is crucial for everyone to keep at least six feet of distance from others and to wear a mask whenever around people that don’t live with them,” said public health officials on Saturday. “These measures limit the spread of the virus and known variants and can reduce the likelihood of a surge in cases due to this variant.”

During a virtual briefing Friday, Dr. Paul Simon, the county health department’s chief science officer, said the county is planning a number of steps to address inequities in COVID-19 distribution, such as prioritizing the establishment of more vaccination sites in areas with the lowest rates, expanding mobile vaccination services to serve older residents and people with limited ability to travel to vaccine sites.

The county is also reserving doses so they can be administered in under-served communities, with 6,000 to 7,000 doses expected to be reserved next week for South Los Angeles and 1,000 to 2,000 in the Antelope Valley, he said.

Simon said there are still issues with vaccine supply, although the county’s sites were largely spared from the weather-related delivery problems that forced the Los Angeles city vaccination sites to close last week.

Los Angeles’ large-scale city-run vaccination sites remain closed, with all appointments rescheduled due to supply delays. However, the city’s mobile vaccination efforts continue as planned, and county officials say their sites have not been affected by weather-related issues and will remain open as scheduled.

The county sites are administering only second doses of the two-dose regimen for people who have already received the first shot.

Health officials have been warning of a difficult month ahead in terms of access to vaccines, with the already jammed appointment system expected to get even more crowded March 1 when essential workers such as teachers, food service workers and law enforcement become eligible for shots. In mid-March, everyone aged 16 and over with a serious underlying health condition will become eligible.

As appointments become available, residents with internet access and a computer are urged to use the Public Health vaccination website.

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.


L.A. County Nears COVID-19 Criteria To Move Into ‘Red’ Tier Of Reopening



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Los Angeles County is getting closer to the COVID-19 criteria for the “red” tier of reopening as cases and hospitalizations continue to decline.

As of Tuesday, L.A. County remains in the most-restrictive “purple” tier in California’s Blueprint for a Safer Economy, according to the Department of Public Health. 

In order to move into the less restrictive red tier that allows for additional re-openings, L.A. County’s daily case rate must be at or below 7 new cases per 100,000 people and the County’s test positivity rate must be at or below 8%. 

Tuesday, the state released updated numbers; L.A. County’s adjusted case rate is 7.2 new cases per 100,000 people and the test positivity rate is 3.5%. 

If Los Angeles County’s adjusted case rate drops to 7 new cases per 100,000 people next week, the County must continue to show a case rate of 7 new cases per 100,000 people or less for two consecutive weeks before it can move to the red tier and be eligible for additional re-openings, including on-site learning for grades 7 through 12, according to Public Health.

“L.A. County is very close to meeting the metric thresholds for the less restrictive red tier in the State’s Blueprint for a Safety Economy, which will provide our county with more opportunities to reopen for additional activities,” said Dr. Barbara Ferrer, director of public health in a statement. “Since there is still widespread transmission occurring in our county, we are hoping we do not see increases in the number of daily cases in the upcoming weeks that will pause our recovery journey and cause more hospitalizations.”

With an increase in the circulation of variants, Public Health asks residents, workers, and businesses to continue following the safety measures and implement Health Officer Order directives, including wearing a mask and physically distancing from others not in your household to prevent spread, Ferrer said. 

See Related: What Can Reopen in the Red Tier?

Public Health has confirmed 91 new deaths and 1,407 new cases of COVID-19 on Tuesday.

To date, the department has identified 1,194,242 positive cases of COVID-19 across all areas of L.A. County and a total of 21,554 deaths. 

There are 1,502 people with COVID-19 currently hospitalized and 32% of these people are in the ICU. Testing results are available for more than 5,844,000 individuals with 19% of people testing positive. Tuesday’s daily test positivity rate is 2.6%. 

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

When Johnson & Johnson doses come into L.A. County, a vaccine that is 100% effective in preventing COVID-19 hospitalization and death, Public Health is hopeful this will improve vaccine supply. 

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

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COVID-19 Cases Among Healthcare Workers In L.A. County Lowest Since Beginning Of Pandemic



COVID19 Coronavirus Los Angeles County (1)

New COVID-19 cases among healthcare workers in Los Angeles County are at the lowest levels since the beginning of the pandemic. 

Dr. Barbara Ferrer, director of the L.A. County Department of Public Health, provided an update on COVID-19 cases on Monday, noting a decline in overall cases since the holiday surge which peaked in mid-January. 

“These declines are real, and we’re grateful for the choices made and the work done by everyone, individuals and businesses, that is making this possible,” she said. 

Ferrer provided an outline of COVID-19 cases among healthcare workers adding it is one of the “first visible signs of the power of the vaccine to decrease our cases.”

“Healthcare workers also experienced a surge in cases in late fall through the winter,” Ferrer said. “Now, as cases overall have declined, and as so many of our healthcare workers are fully vaccinated, cases have dropped to the lowest they have ever been since the beginning of the pandemic.”

The public health director noted on Monday, the county has not yet seen a surge from the recent Super Bowl and holiday weekend, and said if cases continue to decline, additional reopenings are possible.

On Monday, 987 new COVID-19 cases and 32 additional deaths were reported, according to Ferrer. 

To date, Public Health has identified a total of 21,467 deaths and 1,192,895 cumulative cases, according to the public health director. 

Ferrer noted cases and deaths reported on Monday are usually lower due to a lag in testing from over the weekend. 

As of Monday, the seven-day average is less than 1,000 cases, according to Public Health. 

The average testing positivity rate as of Monday is 3%, which is the lowest since the start of the pandemic, according to the department. 

Nearly 2 million COVID-19 vaccine doses have been administered as of the latest update, with 600,000 people — about 6% of all L.A. County residents — are fully vaccinated, according to Ferrer.

The public health director noted the county has the capacity to administer nearly 500,000 doses per week but has received less than 270,000 doses.

Supervisor Hilda Solis and Ferrer celebrated the approval of the Johnson & Johnson (JNJ) vaccine which is expected to arrive in L.A. County as early as this week. 

Ferrer urged residents to take any of the vaccines available saying all three of the vaccines are “incredibly powerful” and prevent serious illness or death from COVID-19.

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.

Supply remains limited, however, is expected to increase in the coming weeks, according to Ferrer.

For more information on COVID-19 vaccination efforts in Los Angeles County, visit here

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Additional Essential Workers Now Eligible For COVID-19 Vaccine In L.A. County



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Additional essential workers, including teachers, first responders and those in the food and agriculture industry, are now eligible to receive a COVID-19 vaccine in Los Angeles County. 

Starting Monday, those three groups can start making appointments to get a COVID-19 vaccine, with most receiving a shot through their employer, said Dr. Paul Simon, the county chief science officer.

“Together these groups comprise well over a million adults in Los Angeles County. Therefore, it will take considerable time to vaccinate these groups,” Simon said.

All essential workers that fall into the new categories are also eligible to receive a dose at the Los Angeles County-run sites, according to Simon. 

Identification is required in order to verify that a person lives or works in L.A. County. In addition, a badge ID, pay stub, professional license, food handler card, work shift schedule or other forms of proof are needed to verify employment. 

A signed letter from a supervisor with letterhead from the company can also be used in some cases, Simon said. 

As supply remains low, L.A. County is expected to receive slightly more doses next week an estimated 269,000 doses next week compared to 211,00 this week, according to Simon.

Of the COVID-19 vaccine doses coming to Los Angeles County next week, about 103,000 are expected to be reserved for the first dose, with 35.8% expected for those over the age of 65.

The remaining doses include about 27.6% for food workers, 30.3% for educators and 6.2% for first responders. 

Simon said the allocation is proportional to the population size of each group.  

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.

There are nearly 400 sites across the county, including large-scale sites such as the one at Six Flags Magic Mountain. However, most of the residents in this new group are expected to be vaccinated through their employer.

For teachers in the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD), a large-scale site at SoFi Stadium opened on Monday.

LAUSD Superintendent Austin Beutner said the site is “the largest vaccination site in the country dedicated to school staff.”

Beutner added the district is aiming to vaccinate teachers working with younger students first, in efforts to reopen elementary schools by April 9. 

 “There are more than 86,000 people who work in traditional and charter schools in Los Angeles Unified and our initial focus will be to vaccinate school staff who are currently working at school sites and all who are involved in preschool and elementary school,” he said.

The district is expected to vaccinate 25,000 teachers and staff in order to get elementary schools open, Beutner said. 

Starting March 15, state public health officials are expected to increase the eligibility for a vaccine to those over the age of 16 with an underlying health condition that puts them at higher risk for severe illness or death from COVID-19.

Dr. Barbara Ferrer, director of public health, said last week there is still uncertainty if Los Angeles County will have enough doses of the vaccine to increase the eligibility to this group

For more information on COVID-19 vaccination efforts in Los Angeles County, visit here

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