As federal health officials recommended Wednesday that all vaccinated Americans get COVID-19 booster shots, Los Angeles County saw another increase in the number of patients hospitalized with the coronavirus.
There were 1,790 COVID patients in county hospitals Wednesday, according to state figures, up from 1,754 on Tuesday. There were also 406 people being treated in intensive care, up from 397 the previous day.
On Tuesday, county health officials confirmed another 30 fatalities due to the virus, along with 2,907 new infections. The 30 new deaths lifted the countywide toll from throughout the pandemic to 24,935. The total number of cases confirmed throughout the pandemic rose to 1,355,698.
The rolling average rate of people testing positive for the virus in the county was 3.5% as of Tuesday, nearly half the rate from two weeks ago.
As expected, federal health officials Wednesday recommended that all vaccinated Americans get booster shots eight months after they become fully vaccinated. That amounts to a third dose of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine — and “likely” an additional dose for people who received the one-dose Johnson & Johnson shot.
Those shots could begin the week of Sept. 20, according to a joint statement Wednesday from the Centers for Disease Control and the Centers for Disease Control and the U.S. Department of Heath and Human Services.
The county over the weekend began offering third doses of the Pfizer and Moderna COVID vaccines to people with compromised immune systems. Health officials urged people to consult their doctors to confirm their eligibility for the third shot, which should be administered at least 28 days following the second dose.
Wednesday, the CDC and HHS said data “make very clear” that protection against SARS-CoV-2 infection begins to decrease over time following the initial doses of vaccination — which prompted their recommendation of booster shots for all.
“Based on our latest assessment, the current protection against severe disease, hospitalization, and death could diminish in the months ahead, especially among those who are at higher risk or were vaccinated during the earlier phases of the vaccination rollout,” the agencies said. “For that reason, we conclude that a booster shot will be needed to maximize vaccine-induced protection and prolong its durability.”
They added: “We have developed a plan to begin offering these booster shots this fall subject to FDA (the Food and Drug Administration) conducting an independent evaluation and determination of the safety and effectiveness of a third dose of the Pfizer and Moderna mRNA vaccines and CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices issuing booster dose recommendations.”
Continued spread of the highly infectious Delta variant of COVID-19 prompted health officials late Monday to issue a new health order that will require all attendees at outdoor “mega-events” with 10,000 or more people to wear face masks. The rule, which takes effect at 11:59 p.m. Thursday, will affect sporting events such as Dodgers, Rams and Chargers game, along with LAFC and Galaxy soccer matches.
The mask-wearing requirement will apply to all attendees, regardless of vaccination status.
Public health officials said Tuesday that inspectors have been finding generally good adherence to public health rules at businesses such as restaurants, bars, breweries, hotels, gyms, stores and manufacturing businesses. The most common violation detected involved employers failing to provide face masks for employees, and employees not wearing them. Some businesses also lacked required signs warning customers that masks are required indoors.
Officials said “there is some room for improvement” in terms of business compliance, particularly at gyms and food and garment manufacturing plants.
“Many businesses and work sites are doing their part and we thank all the establishments and businesses that are implementing safety recommendations, including requiring attendees to be vaccinated and layering masking and distancing,” county Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer said.
“To reduce the spread of COVID-19 and the Delta variant, universal masking is now required at all outdoor mega-events where thousands of people from many different communities are crowded together, often for extended periods of time. The most sensible way to add protection is to please keep your mask on when in indoor public places or work sites and at outdoor mega events when not eating or drinking.”