Los Angeles County continued to show progress in subduing COVID-19 Wednesday, with less than 300 new cases being confirmed, but officials continued to preach the need for more people to get vaccinated to prevent further spread.
“Almost everyone getting infected, being hospitalized or dying from COVID-19 this past few weeks is not fully vaccinated,” Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer said in a statement. “If you are already vaccinated, please do your part to help those around you that are not yet vaccinated feel confident that COVID-19 vaccines are safe and work.
“Every vaccinated person can be an influencer, and by sharing your story, you can make a difference and even save a life,” she said.
The county’s virus numbers continue to trend downward, with just 255 new cases confirmed Wednesday. The new cases brought the county’s cumulative total from throughout the pandemic to 1,237,899.
Another 16 deaths due to COVID were reported by the county, lifting the overall death toll to 24,117.
The only statistic that moved in the wrong direction Wednesday was hospitalizations, with state figures showing 356 people hospitalized in the county due to COVID, up slightly from 352 on Tuesday. There were 81 people in intensive care, up from 79. While up slightly, the numbers are still dramatically down from the beginning of the year.
Weekly statistics released by the state on Tuesday showed the county’s average daily rate of new COVID-19 infections had fallen to 1.2 per 100,000 residents, down from 1.4 per 100,000 last week. The average rate of people testing positive for the virus slipped to 0.6%, down from 0.7% a week ago.
While pushing for increased vaccinations, the county again reminded employers that they can contact the county to arrange mobile vaccine clinics for their workers. Interest forms can be accessed online at www.vaccinatelacounty.com.
Health officials also issued another reminder that mask-wearing mandates remain in place in the county, despite pronouncements by federal authorities that vaccinated people no longer need to wear face coverings indoors. County and state regulations continue to require everyone to wear masks in most indoor settings, regardless of vaccination status, and in outdoor settings with a mix of vaccinated and unvaccinated people.
Ferrer, speaking to the Board of Supervisors on Tuesday, said fully vaccinated people are essentially wearing a “suit of armor” protecting them from COVID, but she said the county still has a large population that is not vaccinated, making masking requirements essential.
“And if you have a lot of people intermingling — and as I noted 50% of them are not fully vaccinated — and there are people who are infected there who are not wearing their masks and they’re not fully vaccinated, they will spread it to other people who are not yet vaccinated,” she said. “And that for all of us creates risk.
“… The more this virus gets transmitted, the more it can mutate,” she said. “And the more it mutates, the more we have a risk of seeing some other new variant of concern, and perhaps that new variant of concern not only is capable of rapidly infecting more people, but also maybe our vaccines don’t work so well against that variant of concern.”
She noted that since there is no vaccine-verification process, unvaccinated people could simply take advantage of relaxed rules and shed their masks, risking more spread of the virus.
Compliance with health orders still appears to be high at businesses. According to the county Department of Public Health, inspectors issued just seven citations to restaurants between Thursday and Sunday for violations of health orders. Inspectors have, however, been focusing more on education efforts at worksites rather than citations in hopes of gaining more adherence to restrictions.
Violations can be reported online at publichealth.lacounty.gov or be calling 888-700-9995.