As more residents are eager to receive a COVID-19 vaccine, California has launched a site for Los Angeles County residents to find out when it is “my turn.”
Governor Gavin Newsom announced Monday the My Turn system, which is currently operating on a trial basis for residents in L.A. and San Diego counties, outlining when residents are able to receive a COVID-19 vaccine.
Through My Turn, individuals are expected to be able to sign up for a notification when they are eligible to make an appointment and schedule one when it is their turn. Providers will be able to use My Turn to automatically share data on vaccines received and administered with the state, reducing lag times.
Los Angeles County is currently vaccinating health care workers and residents 65 years and older, who were made eligible based on recent federal and state guidance.
Beginning in mid-February, eligibility is set to expand to include education and child care, emergency services and food and agricultural workers, which county Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer said amounts to roughly 1.4 million people. There are about 1.5 million adults 65 or older countywide.
“We are going to need to work with the state and with the federal government to get a lot of vaccine supplied, but I think after that, they are going to dispense with the tiering and move to prioritization by age group, which will be so much simpler,” Ferrer said.
Newsom announced Monday a series of improvements to the state’s vaccination plan. Incorporating lessons learned from efforts to increase the pace of vaccination, these new steps will make it easier for people to know when they are eligible for vaccination and how to make an appointment, accelerate the administration of vaccines on hand and improve the state’s ability to track vaccination data.
California has tripled the pace of vaccinations from 43,459 per day on Jan. 4 to 131,620 on January 15. The ten-day effort to ramp up vaccinations exposed key improvements needed to administer even more vaccines when increased supply becomes available.
Moving forward, there will be a single statewide standard and movement through the tiers. The state will continue through 65+, health care workers, and prioritize emergency services, food and agriculture workers, teachers and school staff. From there, the state is expected to transition to age-based eligibility, allowing California to scale up and down quickly while ensuring the COVID-19 vaccine goes to disproportionately impacted communities.
“We’re going to do everything we can to help with getting those doses out,” Ferrer said. “We are particularly anxious to partner with any health care partners who are willing to open up … vaccination sites.”
The public health director said Los Angeles County’s own distribution is complicated by the sheer numbers of eligible residents in every category, including health care workers who work in the county but are not residents.
As of Tuesday, the county distributed 76% of the doses it had received as of Jan. 12, the latest available data. That does not include doses allocated directly to Walgreens and CVS through federal partnerships or to large health systems like Kaiser Permanente across multiple counties.
The state is building out a network to more efficiently deliver vaccines to all the entities licensed to vaccinate residents, including public health systems, pharmacies, health systems, public hospitals, community health centers, pharmacies and pop-up and mobile sites. According to the governor, the system will focus on getting vaccines to high-throughput sites.
Who is Next to Get a COVID-19 Vaccine?
Public health officials have urged patience as the county and state build up the distribution channels, with vaccination efforts likely lasting until 2022.
As of Tuesday, those over the age of 65, healthcare workers and residents of long-term care facilities are eligible to receive a COVID-19 vaccine.
The next step is Phase 1B, allowing those at risk of exposure at work in the following:
- Emergency services
- Food and agriculture
The second tier of Phase 1B also includes at risk of exposure working in the following sectors:
- Transportation and logistics
- Industrial, commercial, residential and sheltering facilities and services
- Critical manufacturing
- Congregate settings with outbreak risk: incarcerated and homeless shelters
Public Health estimates this phase is set to start in early February, with most in this phase should have been offered at least one dose of vaccine by late March.
“Frontline essential workers were chosen because they cannot work from home and provide critically important services and are at high risk of being exposed to the COVID-19 virus. Older adults, and adults with medical conditions are given priority because they are more likely to become very sick if they get COVID-19,” said public health officials.
Following the California COVID-19 vaccine plan, the next phase for distribution is Phase 1C.
In the first tier of Phase 1C, the following residents are expected to able to receive a COVID-19 vaccine:
- Persons 50-64 years old
- Those 16-49 years of age and have an underlying health condition or disability which increases their risk of severe COVID-19
Also included in 1C are those at risk of exposure at work in the following sectors:
- Water and wastewater
- Chemical and hazardous materials
- Communications and IT
- Financial services
- Government operations / community-based essential functions
Public Health estimates that vaccination is expected to begin for those in Phase 1C in March and most in this phase should have been offered at least one dose of vaccine by late April to early May.
A proposed Phase 2 is still being discussed as of Tuesday, expected to include residents 16-49 years old without high-risk medical conditions, according to the guidelines.
These timings are estimates and may change according to factors such as vaccine supply and the state prioritization requirements. The phases and tiers are expected to overlap, according to the department.
To find out when to receive a COVID-19 vaccine, visit here.
Note: City News Service contributed to this report.
L.A. County Sees Increase In COVID-19 Cases Among Staff, Residents At Nursing Facilities
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.
California To Require State, Health Care Workers To Show Proof Of Vaccination Or Testing
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.
Los Angeles County COVID-19 Cases Increase 80% In One Week
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.