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South African, Brazil COVID-19 Variants Confirmed In L.A. County, Cases Remain Low



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The South African and Brazil COVID-19 variants have been confirmed in Los Angeles County on Wednesday as the number of cases remains low.  

Dr. Barbara Ferrer, director of the L.A. County Department of Public Health, announced the first cases of the “variants of concern,” meaning they can lead to increased spread of COVID-19. 

Ferrer said there are three confirmed cases of the Brazil variant, P.1, and one confirmed case of the South African variant, B.1.351, in the samples analyzed. However, there are likely more undetected cases. 

Last week, Public Health sequenced 70 non-random cases, with a majority of those tested identified as the United Kingdom (U.K.) variant, B.1.1.7.

20% of cases tested were identified as the California variant and 5% as the New York variant, according to the department. 

About 12% of cases tested were found to be non-variants, according to Public Health.

The Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) define a variant of concern as “a variant for which there is evidence of an increase in transmissibility, more severe disease, increased hospitalizations or deaths, a significant reduction in neutralization by antibodies generated during previous infection or vaccination, reduced effectiveness of treatments or vaccines, or diagnostic detection failures.”

The U.K. and South African variants were found to be about 50% more transmissible than a non-variant.

All of the variants of concern detected in L.A. County, including the Brazil and California variants, were found to be resistant to certain treatments. 

Despite the presence of variants, cases continue to decline across the county.

Since the peak of the winter surge, Los Angeles County COVID-19 cases have declined over 95%. 

53 new deaths were reported on Wednesday along with 479 additional COVID-19 cases, according to Ferrer.

The total number of deaths is now 23,340 and there are 1,223,174 cumulative cases across Los Angeles County, according to Public Health.

As the number of vaccinations increase, hospitalizations continue to decline, with a large drop in those over the age of 65, according to Ferrer.

On April 15, all residents over the age of 16 become eligible for a COVID-19 vaccine. 

Public health officials are urging those currently eligible to receive a shot before the expansion of eligibility. 

For more information on COVID-19 vaccination in L.A. County, visit here.  


COVID-19 Cases Among Those Experiencing Homelessness Drop In L.A. County



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COVID-19 cases among those experiencing homelessness are dropping in Los Angeles County as vaccinations increase. 

The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health has confirmed 23 new deaths and 613 additional cases of COVID-19 on Thursday. To date, Public Health identified 1,227,514 positive cases of COVID-19 across all areas of L.A. County and a total of 23,569 deaths.

The number of cases among people experiencing homelessness dropped from the peak of 672 weekly cases reported during late December to 117 new cases reported this week, according to the department. 

The number of new cases reported this week includes 58 cases from previous weeks that were newly identified as cases associated with people experiencing homelessness and were included in the new case totals. 

Public Health has identified a total of 6,994 cases among people experiencing homelessness. Cumulative case totals are lower due to ongoing quality assurance reviews. Cases previously reported as COVID-19 cases among people experiencing homelessness were re-classified after further investigation and review.  

A total of 205 people who were experiencing homelessness have died from COVID-19. Of the people experiencing homelessness who passed away, 93 were sheltered, 67 were unsheltered, and for 45 people who passed away, their shelter status was unknown, according to the department. 

121 providers are reporting they are administering vaccinations to people experiencing homelessness. This is about double the organizations compared to the previous week. Currently, 13,621 doses of the COVID-19 vaccines have been administered to people experiencing homelessness across Los Angeles County.

 Of those vaccinated, at least 1,907 people received second doses. The County continues working with partner organizations to vaccinate, reduce virus transmission, and protect people experiencing homelessness from COVID-19 infection, according to public health officials. 

Starting Thursday, April 15, anyone living or working in L.A. County 16 and older is eligible for a COVID-19 vaccine and can schedule vaccination appointments on the MyTurn website. 

Youth 16 and 17 can only receive the Pfizer vaccine and need to sign up at a site that offers this vaccine. Minors must be accompanied by a parent or guardian who can provide consent for vaccination, according to Public Health. 

To learn how to make an appointment, visit here.

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Public Health Prepares For Increased Demand As Residents Over 16 Become Eligible For COVID-19 Vaccine



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Public health officials are preparing for a surge in demand for a COVID-19 vaccine as all residents over the age of 16 become eligible on Thursday, as supply decreases due to the pause of Johnson & Johnson.

Dr. Barbara Ferrer, director of the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health, said Wednesday the newly eligible group includes nearly 5 million residents, with about 1.5 million already receiving at least one dose of a vaccine. 

All residents over 16 can make an appointment starting Wednesday on the state’s MyTurn website, following the expansion by the City of L.A. earlier this week. 

The county paused the use of the J&J vaccine on Tuesday out of an abundance of caution after the recommendation from the Federal Drug Administration (FDA) and U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). 

Ferrer said the blood clotting reaction is “one in a million,” but urged those who have experienced any unusual symptoms to contact Public Health. 

More than 6.8 million doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine have been administered in the U.S. The CDC and FDA are reviewing data involving six reported U.S. cases of a rare and severe type of blood clot in individuals after receiving the J&J vaccine. 

The pause is in effect until the FDA and CDC complete their review, which is expected to take several days, according to the department. 

“We are grateful to the researchers and scientists working to ensure that all medications or vaccines, including the COVID-19 vaccines, meet the highest safety standards,” Ferrer said.

Public health officials are prioritizing new appointments for those who were scheduled to receive a J&J vaccine, according to Ferrer.  

The county received an allocation of about 323,470 doses of the vaccines this week, an estimated 80,000 doses less than the week prior. About 19,000 doses of the allocation are the J&J vaccine, according to Public Health. 

As of April 14, over 3.4 million doses have been administered in L.A. County, including over 1.9 million second doses, according to the public health director.

On Wednesday, 57 new deaths and 411 additional cases were reported in Los Angeles County. A total of 23,553 deaths and 1,226,964 cases have been confirmed across the county since the beginning of the pandemic, according to the department. 

For more information on vaccination efforts in L.A. County and to make an appointment, visit here

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Los Angeles County Remains In ‘Orange’ Tier As COVID-19 Cases, Hospitalizations Decline



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Los Angeles County is remaining in the “orange” tier of reopening as COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations continue to decline. 

The L.A. County Department of Public Health confirmed 23 new deaths and 448 new cases of COVID-19 on Tuesday. To date, 1,226,596 positive cases of COVID-19 and a total of 23,498 deaths have been confirmed across all areas of L.A. County.

There are 471 people with COVID-19 currently hospitalized and 25% of these people are in the ICU. Testing results are available for more than 6,223,000 individuals with 18% of people testing positive.

L.A. County is in the orange tier of the State’s Blueprint for a Safer Economy that allows for permitted activities in several key sectors with safety measures in place. In order to move to the less restrictive yellow tier, the County’s case rate must be less than 2 new cases per 100,000 people and test positivity must be less than 2%.

Tuesday, the State released updated numbers; L.A. County’s adjusted case rate slightly increased from 3.1 new cases per 100,000 people to 3.2 new cases per 100,000. The test positivity rate remained at 1.5% and in areas with the fewest health affirming resources, L.A. County’s test positivity rate remained at 1.9%.

The State plans to fully reopen with safety measures on June 15 if there is enough vaccine supply for Californians 16 years and older to be vaccinated and hospitalization rates remain stable and low, especially among fully vaccinated Californians.

“We have moderate transmission in L.A. County, so it remains necessary to continue taking steps to prevent increases in cases to keep our recovery from stalling,” said Dr. Barbara Ferrer, director of public health in a statement. “One important tool for reducing transmission are vaccines. And while we all need to follow the FDA and CDC recommendation to pause the use of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine as they conduct their review, we encourage residents to keep their appointments to get vaccinated with the Moderna and Pfizer vaccine. We are grateful to the researchers and scientists working to ensure that all medications or vaccines, including the COVID-19 vaccines, meet the highest safety standards.”

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued a joint recommendation on Tuesday to pause the use of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine after reports that six women between the ages of 18 and 48 developed unusual types of blood clots 6 to 13 days after receiving the vaccine. 

Out of an abundance of caution, Los Angeles County is following the recommendation of the FDA and CDC to pause the use of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine until the FDA and CDC complete their review, which is expected to take several days, public health officials said.

Right now, these adverse events appear to be extremely rare with nearly 7,000,000 people receiving the Johnson & Johnson vaccine in the United States to date. COVID-19 vaccine safety is a top priority and we are working with healthcare providers across the county to ensure they are using screening tools and reporting adverse events, according to the department. 

People who received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine within the last three weeks should report severe headaches, abdominal or leg pain, and shortness of breath to their medical provider or seek medical care. People who don’t have a medical provider can call 2-1-1 to connect with a healthcare provider.

Public Health notes the pause in the use of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine should not have a major impact on this week’s vaccine appointments for the County. Out of the 323,470 total doses allocated to the County this week, only 19,600 were Johnson & Johnson doses. Vaccine providers in Los Angeles County will contact patients that were scheduled to receive the Johnson & Johnson vaccine about rescheduling or providing a new appointment for Pfizer or Moderna vaccine. 

Changes will be made to the MyTurn website starting tomorrow to allow residents 16 and older to begin to schedule vaccination appointments for Thursday and later. Youth 16 and 17 can only receive the Pfizer vaccine and need to sign up at a site that offers this vaccine, according to the department. 

For information about how to make a COVID-19 vaccination appointment, visit here.

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