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Two Additional Cases Of U.K. COVID-19 Variant Confirmed In L.A. County

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The Department of Public Health has confirmed two additional cases of United Kingdom (U.K.) COVID-19 variant B.1.1.7 on Saturday, totaling 14 cases in Los Angeles County.

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.”

Public Health has confirmed 136 new deaths and 2,393 new cases of COVID-19 on Saturday. To date, the department has identified 1,179,063 positive cases of COVID-19 across all areas of L.A. County and a total of 19,793 deaths. 

Residents under 50 years old make up 64% of the new COVID-19 cases reported Saturday, with residents between the ages of 18 to 49 years old driving most of these cases. Residents 65 and older old make up just 15% of new cases but make up 71% of the reported deaths. 

Of the 136 new deaths reported today, 43 people that passed away were over the age of 80, 54 people who died were between the ages of 65 and 79, 23 people who died were between the ages of 50 and 64, five people who died were between the ages of 30 and 49, and three people who died were between the ages of 18 and 29. 

COVID-19 transmission remains widespread in L.A. County, and variant cases are increasing. 

“It is very important that if you are even mildly sick or think you were exposed to someone with COVID-19 that you stay home and away from other people, especially those at greater risk of becoming seriously ill from COVID-19, and that you consider being tested for COVID-19. This is essential to prevent you from unintentionally spreading COVID-19 to other people,” said public health officials. 

There are 2,498 people with COVID-19 currently hospitalized and 30% of these people are in the ICU. Testing results are available for more than 5,750,000 individuals with 19% of people testing positive. 

COVID-19 vaccine supply remains very limited, according to Public Health. For information about vaccine appointments in L.A. County, visit here.

Coronavirus

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

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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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