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Second Case Of U.K. COVID-19 Variant Confirmed In Los Angeles County

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The second case of the United Kingdom (U.K.) COVID-19 variant has been confirmed in Los Angeles County on Saturday.

The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health confirmed the second case of COVID-19 variant B.1.1.7, the same variant discovered in the U.K., according to the department

“The specimen, submitted by a clinical facility, was sequenced as part of routine surveillance by the Los Angeles County Public Health Laboratory,” public health officials said.

On Jan. 16. Public Health confirmed the first case of the U.K. COVID-19 variant in an individual who recently spent time in Los Angeles County, according to the department.

“The individual is a male who traveled to Oregon, where he is currently isolating. The variant was confirmed by the University of Washington,” public health officials said at the time.

The department believes the U.K. variant is spreading in the community.

On Saturday, Public Health confirmed 316 new deaths and 6,918 new cases of COVID-19.

To date, the department has identified 1,111,089 positive cases of COVID-19 across all areas of L.A. County and a total of 16,647 deaths.

“Viruses constantly change through mutation, and new variants of a virus are expected to occur over time,” public health officias said Saturday. “Sometimes new variants emerge and disappear. Other times, new variants emerge and persist. Multiple variants of the virus that causes COVID-19 have been documented in the United States and globally during this pandemic. Currently, there is no evidence that it causes more severe illness or increased risk of death.”

The presence of the B.1.1.7 variant in Los Angeles County means virus transmission can happen more easily, and residents and businesses must more diligently implement and follow all of the personal protective actions and safety measures put in place to prevent additional cases, hospitalizations and deaths.

This includes wearing a face covering properly over your nose and mouth, physically distancing, and not gathering with people from outside your household. With community transmission still at a very high level, staying home as much as possible is the best protection. These strategies will only be effective in slowing the spread of any variant strain of COVID-19 if they are used by everyone all of the time, according to Public Health.

Four additional cases of multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children (MIS-C) are also being reported by Public Health.

This brings the total cases of MIS-C in L.A. County to 66 children including one child death. All 66 children with MIS-C in L.A. County were hospitalized and 44% of the children were treated in the ICU. Of the children with MIS-C, 32% were under the age of 5 years old, 38% were between the ages of 5 and 11 years old, and 30% were between the ages of 12 and 20 years old. Latino/Latinx children account for nearly 74% of the reported cases.

MIS-C is an inflammatory condition associated with COVID-19, and symptoms include a fever that does not go away and inflamed body parts, including the heart, lungs, kidneys, brain, skin, eyes or gastrointestinal organs.

“If you believe your child is displaying MIS-C symptoms, contact your primary care or an urgent care provider. Seek emergency care for critical or life-threatening conditions,” public health officials said. “If you do not have a primary care provider, dial 2-1-1 and L.A. County will help connect you to one.”

Testing results are available for more than 5,483,000 individuals with 19% of people testing positive. Saturday’s daily test positivity rate is 9.9%, down 15 percent compared to last Saturday. There are 5,669 people with COVID-19 currently hospitalized, and 26% of these people are in the ICU.

“Although some restrictions were just lifted in our County, we are still in a very dangerous period in terms of cases, hospitalizations and deaths,” said Dr. Barbara Ferrer, director of public health in a statement. “We all want our businesses currently operating to remain open and more to reopen safely in the future. Our case rates must continue to come down. One way to do that is for everyone to follow all of the public health recommendations and directives all of the time. Because some sectors have re-opened, it doesn’t mean that the risk for community transmission has gone away; it hasn’t, and each of us needs to make very careful choices about what we do and how we do it. This virus is strong, and we are now concerned about variants and what these will mean in our region.”

Currently, more than 790,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccines have been administered across the County. People eligible for vaccine include frontline healthcare workers, residents and staff at long-term care facilities, and County residents age 65 and older. Together, these groups total more than 2 million people eligible for the vaccine, who each need two doses.

The County receives, on average, 150,000 vaccine doses per week. Public Health has built an extensive network with pharmacies, federally qualified health centers, hospitals, health clinics, and community vaccination sites, including six large capacity sites, some managed by the City of LA and some by the County, to ensure that, as more vaccine is available, more people can be vaccinated across the County.

Public Health’s website connects residents eligible for vaccinations to appointment registration links at various sites. The site has incorporated the State’s new appointment registration platform, MyTurn, which now allows residents to book their first and second dose appointments at the same time.

Residents with internet access and a computer are urged to use www.VaccinateLACounty.com to sign up as appointments become available. 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. Individuals are encouraged to use the website whenever possible to sign up for an appointment to avoid long wait times on the phone.

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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