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Rep. Karen Bass, a Physician Assistant during the AIDS crisis, talks about the coronavirus



Rep. Karen Bass is a fighting social justice community activist at heart. She’s no stranger to adversity, founding the Community Coalition in the late 1980s to fight the crack cocaine epidemic in South LA and the dire conditions that fed it, to being elected the first African American woman Speaker of the California Assembly in 2008/2009 during a significant fiscal crisis, for which she was honored by the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library with the 2010 Profile in Courage Award. Now she serves as Chair of the important Black Congressional Caucus dealing with the Trump administration.

But it’s the knowledge she gained as a Physician Assistant and clinical instructor at the University of Southern California’s Keck School of Medicine Physician Assistant Program that is most pertinent now as she and her congressional colleagues fight to keep the coronavirus from killing thousands and destroying the American healthcare system and economy.

Bass has become known for her series of constituent town halls with one Tuesday night on coronavirus. She also has provided a lot of information about COVID-19 on her website.

Bass’ 37th Congressional District includes the Black gay wellness organization, In The Meantime Men where she has met with founding director Jeffrey King and ITMTM members. King talked to the Los Angeles Blade about the need for coronavirus testing kits to be provided to community-based organizations that provide care for people who are HIV positive.

But in a phone interview with the Los Angeles Blade, Bass says the response to the outbreak has been so bad, frontline community organizations will probably be the last to get the kits.

“We are so unfortunate because we’re so late. The administration knew about this virus months ago and unfortunately, we are not prepared,” Bass says. “We are not prepared with testing kits and I doubt very seriously that there will be any time soon that we will get testing kits to the level of community health centers. I think a lot of the testing kits that are being sent out now are hospital-based and are basically for people who are symptomatic. It is not for people without symptoms.”

That said, Bass agrees “150%” that testing kits should be made available,  “especially to high-risk populations who might be immune compromised and folks with HIV by definition are immune compromised. And so folks with diseases, underlying problems, need to be the first ones that the test is provided to. But if you’re not without symptoms, I don’t see there being a possibility of being administered a test, even if you went to the hospital.”

The problem has been exacerbated by flu season, which produces similar symptoms such as a fever, difficulty breathing and a dry cough.  But COVID-19 is a new coronavirus that is 10 times more lethal than the seasonal flu, Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), told the House Oversight and Reform Committee on March 11.

“I mean people always say, ‘Well, the flu does this, the flu does that,’” Fauci said. “The flu has a mortality rate of 0.1 percent. This has a mortality rate of 10 times that. That’s the reason I want to emphasize we have to stay ahead of the game in preventing this.”

Part of the reasoning behind not testing people with flu-like symptoms is the fear of overwhelming the unprepared hospital system. And there was more dire news on Tuesday as the LA Times reported that people without symptoms could be infected “silent carriers.”

“’Stealth transmission’” is not only real but a ‘major driver’ of the epidemic, Columbia University infectious diseases researcher Jeffrey Shaman, who led the study published Monday in the journal Science,” told the LA Times. “Its contribution to the virus’ spread ‘is substantially undetected, and it’s flying below the radar.’”

Meanwhile, this is spring break, a time when young people who think they are “invincible” frolic in parks, beaches, and parties, ignoring the CDC recommendation about “social distancing.”

“I think that we are all going through a learning process and it is tough, especially if you’re talking about people who are healthy,” Bass says. “They’re not feeling symptomatic and that they could be the ones that pass on the virus. I think we are all in an educational process.”

Bass underscores just how new the virus is. “I’m certainly in an educational process and I have a medical background and I went through the AIDS crisis also from its very beginning. I watched all of Santa Monica Boulevard get wiped out near Vermont. That whole area there. I watched everybody die within a matter of two years.

“But I think that this is really hard because you don’t have to have any physical contact,” she continues. “It’s one thing if you tell people not to have physical contact — you don’t have physical contact for this. You could just be in a room with somebody. So, I think that it’s important that we all educate ourselves. And so my role is to do that. But I feel like we’re all going through this together.”

Bass says she is advising people “to follow what is coming out of the Center for Disease Control: to stay in, to order in, to not be in crowds. We’re just trying to share the advice, but we’re also trying to explain the reason why. And I think the reason why is not very clear. Like you tell people to shelter in home for how long? For a week, a month, a year? And that’s what’s leading to the panic because people don’t know.”

Rep. Karen Bass with LA City Councilmember Mike Bonin, Rep. Ted Lieu and LA County Supervisor Sheila Kuehl at an event sponsored by activist Torie Osborn before the coronavirus exploded (Photo courtesy Osborn) 

There is also confusion around the end date, too. As of Tuesday morning, the date was the end or March or by April 4. But the mayor of New York City, which is essentially on lock down, says fighting the coronavirus may last throughout the summer.

Bass also wants to emphasize that everyone is on this journey together. “People are building the plane while it’s flying. In other words, this is a new virus. And so what is the best way, how long does it live on a surface, how close in contact should you be? All of this is a learning curve for all of us, including the scientific community. The medical community are trying to figure it out too,” Bass says. “That’s why you have medical folks getting sick. Just like you did with the AIDS virus until we learned that a finger stick could cause transmission. People never wore gloves when I was trained to draw blood, we were never trained on gloves. Those were changes that had to be made as we learned the character, the nature of the HIV virus.”

Bass is also concerned about all the misinformation, and the intentional harm being perpetrated on the internet.

“People should only get test kits from medical professionals. You can’t get test kits on the internet, for example, because there’s fake test kits — and people shouldn’t be testing themselves anyway. I don’t know how or why they would do that. But anytime you have something like this, you have bottom feeders who try to make money off of it. And part of doing that is claiming that they have access to tests that they don’t.”

As for test kits getting to organizations like In The Meantime Men, Bass was blunt.

“I don’t think they’re going to get test kits anytime soon. I think they’re trying to deal with hospitals right now. The problem is — they knew this was coming and they didn’t do anything about it. You remember it took a movement for HIV to be dealt with. It took a literal social justice movement.

“But that was obviously different,” she says. “I mean that was in a stigmatized population. And it wasn’t until it crossed over that people began to take it seriously. And then once it crossed over again, the people of color, then people stopped taking it seriously. So, this is very different because this impacts everybody.”

But, she added, getting testing in communities of color and poor communities, “I think the last place that they’re going to go is to community-based organizations. And obviously our community, inner city communities, rely more on the community-based organizations than they do the big hospitals.”

Her advice is for a community-based organization to be connected to their largest facility “so that they can refer people.”

In the end, Bass comes back to community. “We all have to stand together through this, and we need to educate ourselves,” she says. “We can’t assume this is like anything we’ve seen before.”

Bass’ coronavirus webpage is a very good source of collected information:

“For updated information from the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health about this outbreak, please visit or call 211. Please note that many people are likely to call 211 so be prepared for increased wait times and remember that this is not a hotline reserved for the 2019 coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.”


Culver City staff continue to receive updates from the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health (LACDPH) and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and participate in planning regarding the novel (new) coronavirus. To learn the latest community information about COVID-19, including facility closures and event cancellations in Culver City, click here:


Here is what you need to know to protect yourself and your loved ones:


What is coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19)?


COVID-19 is a respiratory illness that can spread from person to person. Coronaviruses are common, and they include the common cold, but COVID-19 is a new strain.


What are the symptoms and how does it spread?


The most common symptoms include fever, cough and increasingly severe respiratory symptoms (trouble breathing). Our experience to date is that most people who are exposed to the virus, more than 80%, have mild or no symptoms. Some people, however, may have more complicated symptoms, including pneumonia or lung inflammation.


For confirmed COVID-19 cases, reported illnesses have ranged from mild to severe symptoms, including fever, cough, and shortness of breath. Current research suggests that symptoms of COVID-19 may appear in as few as 2 days or as long as 14 days after exposure.


Am I at risk of contracting COVID-19?


It is important to know that the risk of COVID-19 to the general public in the United States continues to remain low and efforts are being undertaken to keep it that way. With that said, public health officials believe the situation will get worse. How much worse, depends not only on the response of local, state and federal public health officials, but on the public at large.


As mentioned above, some people are more at-risk of severe health effects from COVID-19.  This includes but is not limited to those over 60 years of age, with growing risk as age increases; people with respiratory conditions like asthma, chronic bronchitis, and emphysema; people with cardiovascular disease, hypertension, diabetes; and those who are immune-compromised, such as people in cancer treatment or with HIV/AIDS.


How can I help protect myself, my family, and my community?


Every person has a role to play in protecting themselves and helping prevent the spread of COVID-19. Here’s what you can do:

  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, & mouth
  • Stay home when you are sick
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw tissue in the trash
  • Use a regular household cleaning spray/wipe to clean & disinfect frequently touched objects & surfaces
  • Wash your hands often with soap & water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom, before eating, and after blowing your nose, coughing or sneezing

Have there been cases of COVID-19 in the U.S.?


Yes. The first case of COVID-19 in the United States was reported on January 21, 2020. Updated information on the number of cases of COVID-19 in the United States is available here.


Are there cases of COVID-19 in California?


Yes. The State of California now has the authority and ability to test individuals, and is receiving additional test kits, as requested. Updated information is available here.


Are there people with COVID-19 in Los Angeles County?


Yes. For the most up to date information regarding cases, visit the Los Angeles County Public Health Department’s website here.


What is Congress doing?


The House of Representatives passed an $8.3 billion spending measure that has been signed into law to fund the federal government’s response to the coronavirus and to assist state and local governments. Further action and legislation is expected.


I am a health professional.  Where do I find resources for how to treat my patients and where to report cases? 


The Los Angeles County Public Health Department has resources specifically for doctors, nurses and other health professionals, including Identifying and Managing Suspect Patients; Testing, Reporting, Infection Prevention, and specific guidance for care facilities, located here.  Health care professionals can also sign up for the LA County Health Alert Network (LAHAN) here.


Information for Workers


Sick or Quarantined


In California, if you need to access paid family, medical, or sick leave you should visit or contact the State of California’s Employment Development Department at or call 1-877-238-4373 to contact a Paid Family Leave representative.


If you’re unable to work due to having or being exposed to COVID-19 (certified by a medical professional), you can file a Disability Insurance (DI) claim. DI provides short-term benefit payments to eligible workers who have a full or partial loss of wages due to a non-work-related illness, injury, or pregnancy. For guidance on the disease, visit the California Department of Public Health website.


You can find more information from the Employment Development Department of California about disability or paid family leave benefits along with information about unemployment insurance benefits here:




If you’re unable to work because you are caring for an ill or quarantined family member with COVID-19 (certified by a medical professional), you can file a Paid Family Leave (PFL) claim. PFL provides up to six weeks of benefit payments to eligible workers who have a full or partial loss of wages because they need time off work to care for a seriously ill family member or to bond with a new child. Benefit amounts are approximately 60-70 percent of wages (depending on income) and range from $50-$1,300 a week.


Reduced Work Hours 


If your employer has reduced your hours or shut down operations due to COVID-19, you can file an Unemployment Insurance (UI) claim. UI provides partial wage replacement benefit payments to workers who lose their job or have their hours reduced, through no fault of their own. Workers who are temporarily unemployed due to COVID-19 and expected to return to work with their employer within a few weeks are not required to actively seek work each week. However, they must remain able and available and ready to work during their unemployment for each week of benefits claimed and meet all other eligibility criteria. Eligible individuals can receive benefits that range from $40-$450 per week.


Information for Employers


Workplace Health and Safety 


For information on protecting workers from COVID-19, refer to the Cal/OSHA Guidance on Coronavirus. Businesses and employers can visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website for help with planning and responding to COVID-19.


Reduced Work Hours


Employers experiencing a slowdown in their businesses or services as a result of the coronavirus impact on the economy may apply for the UI Work Sharing Program. This program allows employers to seek an alternative to layoffs — retaining their trained employees by reducing their hours and wages that can be partially offset with UI benefits. Workers of employers who are approved to participate in the Work Sharing Program receive the percentage of their weekly UI benefit amount based on the percentage of hours and wages reduced, not to exceed 60 percent.


Visit Work Sharing Program to learn more about its benefits for employers and employees, and how to apply.


Potential Closure or Layoffs 


Employers planning a closure or major layoffs as a result of the coronavirus can get help through the Rapid Response program. Rapid Response teams will meet with you to discuss your needs, help avert potential layoffs, and provide immediate on-site services to assist workers facing job losses. For more information, refer to the Rapid Response Services for Businesses Fact Sheet (DE 87144RRB) (PDF) or contact your local America’s Job Center of California.


Information Regarding Tax Assistance


Employers experiencing a hardship as a result of COVID-19 may request up to a 60-day extension of time from the EDD to file their state payroll reports and/or deposit state payroll taxes without penalty or interest. A written request for extension must be received within 60 days from the original delinquent date of the payment or return.


For questions, employers may call the EDD Taxpayer Assistance Center.

  • Toll-free from the U.S. or Canada: 1-888-745-3886
  • Hearing impaired (TTY): 1-800-547-9565
  • Outside the U.S. or Canada: 1-916-464-3502

Information for Parents of LAUSD Students

Los Angeles Unified, in partnership with the Red Cross, will continue to provide nutritious meals to all students who need them during the temporary closure of schools. Our Grab & Go Food Centers will be open beginning Wednesday, March 18, and will be staffed weekdays from 7 a.m. to 10 a.m. To find the closest Grab & Go Food Center, see the map below or check the list of centers on this page:



This is an evolving situation. For updated information about this outbreak, please visit or call 211. Please note that many people are likely to call 211 so be prepared for increased wait times and remember that this is not a hotline reserved for the 2019 coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.



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LA County requiring vax proof for indoor bars & nightclubs by Oct. 7

Participants and workers at outdoor “mega events” with more than 10,000 attendees must provide proof of vax or show a recent negative test



Photo Credit: County of Los Angeles

LOS ANGELES – The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health announced Wednesday that it will begin requiring verification of vaccination in select high-risk settings by October 7.

During a Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors meeting Wednesday, L.A. County Health Director Barbara Ferrer told the supervisors that vaccine verification will be required for customers and employees at indoor portions of bars, wineries, breweries, night clubs, and lounges.

The modified Health Officer Order would require customers and employees at bars, breweries, wineries, night clubs and lounges to have at least one dose of the vaccine by October 7 and both doses by November 4.

Public Health will require vaccination verification or a negative test within 72 hours prior to attending outdoor mega events. Participants and workers at outdoor “mega events” with more than 10,000 attendees must provide proof of vax or show a recent negative test.

Attendees at indoor mega events are already required to show proof of vaccination or a negative test result prior to entry. 

Los Angeles County Department of Public Health officials are prepared to move forward with the updated order later this week, Ferrer said.

“This modified health officer order aligns with the continued need to reduce risk for transmission and increase vaccination coverage,” Ferrer said. “This is a reasonable path forward that can position us to be better able to break the cycle of surges.”

She noted that while the health order won’t require it, Public Health will recommend that restaurants also begin verifying vaccination status for indoor dining.

“As evidence mounts affirming the safety and effectiveness of COVID-19 vaccines, vaccination mandates are an increasingly important tool to prevent future COVID surges that cause widespread suffering. The modified Health Officer Order aligns with the continued need to reduce risk for transmission and increase vaccination coverage; this is a reasonable path forward that can position us to be better able to break the cycle of surges,” Ferrer added.

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LAUSD to require vaccines- Biden lays out new plan to require vaccines

“The COVID-19 vaccines are safe, effective & requiring students to be vaccinated is the strongest way to protect our school community.”



Photo Credit: Los Angeles Unified School District

LOS ANGELES – The Los Angeles Unified School District announced Thursday that it will require for students 12 and older who are attending class in person to be vaccinated against the coronavirus.

The LAUSD Board of Education voted, 6-0, to pass the measure making it the first major school system, the second largest in the United States to require its more than 460,000 students, including some enrolled at independent charter schools located in LAUSD owned buildings, to be vaccinated.

Interim superintendent, Megan Reilly, said at Thursday’s board meeting that student vaccination was one way to ensure that the district’s classrooms would be able to remain open. Los Angeles had some of the country’s most extended school closures last year. All students ages 12 and up will be required to be fully vaccinated by Jan. 10, 2022, unless they have a “medical or other exemption,” Reilly noted.

The science is clear — vaccinations are an essential part of protection against COVID-19,” Reilly said in a statement following the vote. “The COVID-19 vaccines are safe, effective and requiring eligible students to be vaccinated is the strongest way to protect our school community.”

New York Times educational journalist Dana Goldstein tweeted:

As the Delta variant brought another wave of COVID-19 infections this summer, in California the number of unvaccinated young people being hospitalized has increased in certain areas of the state.

The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health noted that while case rates increased among children in all age groups between mid-July and mid-August, cases have declined by about 30% in all age groups among children (0-4, 5-11, and 12-17 years old) over the past two weeks.

The decrease is similar to the decreases we are seeing in cases among adult residents and occurred as many schools reopened with testing, masking, infection control and outbreak management protocols in place.  Over the past week, children under 18 comprised, on average, 27% of all cases seen in L.A. County.

Among L.A. County teens 12 to 17 years old, more than half of whom are vaccinated, we see just how powerfully protective the vaccines really are. As of August 28, the case rate among unvaccinated 12 to 17-year-olds was 424 cases among every 100,000 unvaccinated children in this age group compared with 51 cases among 100,000 of those vaccinated.

Among groups ineligible for vaccination, the case rate was 130 per 100,000 children aged 0 to 4, and 230 per 100,000 children aged 5 to 11.

As of September 5, 62% of L.A. County residents 12 to 15 years old received at least one dose of vaccine, while 51% were fully vaccinated. Sixty-nine percent of residents 16 to 17 years old received at least one dose, and 59% were fully vaccinated.

In K-12 school settings countywide, between August 15 and September 7, 7,784 student cases and 1,250 staff cases were reported, with the vast majority occurring at LAUSD, which tests everyone weekly.

The second highest number of cases came from other K-12 schools in L.A. County. With more than 1.5 million students and 175,000 staff countywide (by last year’s counts), 0.5% of the student body and 0.7% of staff have become infected since school districts reopened.  This is slightly higher than the 0.4% rate of infection experienced overall in the County.

“We support the actions taken by the Los Angeles Unified School District and other schools and school districts to add an additional layer of protection at schools through a sensible school vaccine requirement for eligible students,” said Barbara Ferrer, Director of Public Health.

“Vaccination remains one of the quickest and most powerful ways to decrease community transmission and prevent serious illness, which helps keep students, teachers, and staff in school, and the COVID-19 vaccines have proven to be safe and effective. Public Health will continue to work closely with school districts as they take critical actions to protect students and staff from a dangerous and highly infectious virus,” said Ferrer.

Battle over vaccinations and mask wearing has become so acrimonious in some parts of the country it is not unusual to see fistfights breaking out at school board meetings and law enforcement agencies effecting arrests as those who are adamantly opposed to coronavirus safety protocols protest, sometime violently, measures designed to protect the risk of infection by the COVID-19 virus.

As school boards weigh their options in implementation, in one highly publicized and now viral moment, anti-maskers in Rutherford County Schools in Tennessee at a school board meeting attacked a teen student who had lost a grandparent to the pandemic.

At the White House Thursday, President Joe Biden addressed the nation on his plans to implement plans to address the shortfall in the number of Americans who are vaccinated.

Many of us are frustrated with the nearly 80 million Americans who are still not vaccinated, even though the vaccine is safe, effective, and free,” the President acknowledged. 

This is a pandemic of the unvaccinated.  And it’s caused by the fact that despite America having an unprecedented and successful vaccination program, despite the fact that for almost five months free vaccines have been available in 80,000 different locations, we still have nearly 80 million Americans who have failed to get the shot

And to make matters worse, there are elected officials actively working to undermine the fight against COVID-19.  Instead of encouraging people to get vaccinated and mask up, they’re ordering mobile morgues for the unvaccinated dying from COVID in their communities.  This is totally unacceptable,” Biden argued. 

The President then took direct aim at officials and others who in his eyes who have blocked progress saying; “These pandemic politics, as I refer to, are making people sick, causing unvaccinated people to die.” 

President Joe Biden (Official White House photo by Adam Schultz)

Biden laid out the steps he was going to order to combat the lack of vaccinations in the nation.

I’m announcing that the Department of Labor is developing an emergency rule to require all employers with 100 or more employees, that together employ over 80 million workers, to ensure their workforces are fully vaccinated or show a negative test at least once a week. Some of the biggest companies are already requiring this: United Airlines, Disney, Tysons Food, and even Fox News,” he said.

He announced vaccination requirements for all nursing home workers who treat patients on Medicare and Medicaid and then expanded those requirements to include those who work in hospitals, home healthcare facilities, or other medical facilities –- a total of 17 million healthcare workers.

The President then said he would sign an executive order requiring all executive branch federal employees to be vaccinated as well as another executive order that will require federal contractors to do the same.

As part of his plan Biden said that the Department of Labor will require employers with 100 or more workers to give those workers paid time off to get vaccinated.  “No one should lose pay in order to get vaccinated or take a loved one to get vaccinated,” he said.

The President then noted; “And my message to unvaccinated Americans is this: What more is there to wait for?  What more do you need to see?  We’ve made vaccinations free, safe, and convenient. The vaccine has FDA approval.  Over 200 million Americans have gotten at least one shot.”

We’ve been patient, but our patience is wearing thin.  And your refusal has cost all of us.  So, please, do the right thing.  But just don’t take it from me; listen to the voices of unvaccinated Americans who are lying in hospital beds, taking their final breaths, saying, “If only I had gotten vaccinated.”  “If only,” he said. 

Biden also addressed the future availability of vaccines for children under 12 and schools.

Now, if you’re a parent of a young child, you’re wondering when will it be — when will it be — the vaccine available for them.  I strongly support an independent scientific review for vaccine uses for children under 12.  We can’t take shortcuts with that scientific work

Now to the schools.  We know that if schools follow the science and implement the safety measures — like testing, masking, adequate ventilation systems that we provided the money for, social distancing, and vaccinations — then children can be safe from COVID-19 in schools.

Today, about 90 percent of school staff and teachers are vaccinated.  We should get that to 100 percent.  […] And tonight, I’m calling on all governors to require vaccination for all teachers and staff.  Some already have done so, but we need more to step up,” Biden said.

The President castigated local and state officials he viewed as an impedimentg to winning the fight against the virus;

Let me be blunt.  My plan also takes on elected officials and states that are undermining you and these lifesaving actions.  Right now, local school officials are trying to keep children safe in a pandemic while their governor picks a fight with them and even threatens their salaries or their jobs.  Talk about bullying in schools.  If they’ll not help — if these governors won’t help us beat the pandemic, I’ll use my power as President to get them out of the way. 

The Department of Education has already begun to take legal action against states undermining protection that local school officials have ordered.  Any teacher or school official whose pay is withheld for doing the right thing, we will have that pay restored by the federal government 100 percent.  I promise you I will have your back,” he stated.

Addressing the increasing violence against mask wearing and other simple measures Biden noted;

In addition to testing, we know masking helps stop the spread of COVID-19.  That’s why when I came into office, I required masks for all federal buildings and on federal lands, on airlines, and other modes of transportation,” he said.

Today — tonight, I’m announcing that the Transportation Safety Administration — the TSA — will double the fines on travelers that refuse to mask.  If you break the rules, be prepared to pay.  And, by the way, show some respect.  The anger you see on television toward flight attendants and others doing their job is wrong; it’s ugly,” he added.


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Breakthru Delta Variant on rise in LA County as Pfizer gets full FDA okay

Last week Los Angeles County surpassed the grim milestone of losing more than 25,000 residents to COVID-19



FDA Headquarters (Blade file photo)

LOS ANGELES – Numbers of fully vaccinated people being affected by breakthrough infections of the highly contagious Delta variant of the coronavirus are rising in Los Angeles County according to L.A. County Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer.

The latest data “reflect the reality that the vaccines do not provide 100% protection, and that with these high rates of community transmission, more fully vaccinated people are getting post-vaccination infections,” Ferrer said. “However, this very same information also makes it clear how much protection vaccinated people still have. Most of us that are fully vaccinated don’t get infected.”

Among the 5.1 million L.A. County residents who are fully vaccinated, 0.53% have tested positive, 0.014% have been hospitalized and 0.0013% — or 68 people — have died.

On Monday the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health confirmed 7 new deaths and 2,331 new cases of COVID-19. There are 1,722 people with COVID-19 currently hospitalized. Testing results are available for nearly 7,940,000 individuals with 16% of people testing positive. The test positivity rate is 2.8%, (Monday) a slight decrease from last week’s same-day rate of 3.4%

It was announced that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved the license for the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine for the prevention of COVID-19 disease in individuals 16 years of age and older.

The Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine continues to be available under emergency use authorization (EUA) for those 12 through 15 years old and for a third dose in certain immunocompromised individuals. The licensing approval was announced after another thorough evaluation of safety and effectiveness data by a panel of scientific and medical experts. FDA-approved vaccines undergo the agency’s standard process for reviewing the quality, safety and effectiveness of medical products.

Last week Los Angeles County surpassed the grim milestone of losing more than 25,000 residents to COVID-19. Unfortunately, COVID-19 is one of the leading causes of death – surpassing stroke, diabetes, and Alzheimer’s disease. 

Between July 11 and August 11, hospitalizations rose by 333% to an average of 1,622 beds filled with people testing positive for COVID-19 on any given day, and deaths rose 275% to an average of 15 deaths per day

As the FDA granted full approval for the Pfizer vaccine, Federal officials announced changes to vaccination strategies aimed at increasing the protection afforded to people by vaccines. With emerging data indicating that certain populations will need more support to be protected, the CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices on August 13 recommended a third dose of mRNA vaccines for immunocompromised people, including transplant recipients, people with advanced or untreated HIV infection, people actively receiving cancer treatment, and people taking immunosuppressive medications. 

Third doses have been available to eligible individuals at vaccination sites across LA County since Saturday.  Additionally, following yesterday’s announcement by the CDC that booster doses of mRNA vaccines will be offered to all vaccinated people, Public Health is continuing to work with staff and residents at skilled nursing facilities to prioritize these most vulnerable residents for booster doses to be prepared for administering these as soon as the Food and Drug Administration gives their approval.

Public Health notes the difference between third doses and booster doses is more than just language. Third doses are meant to elicit an antibody response where there was an inadequate antibody response before, while booster doses are meant to increase antibody levels that have waned after a robust increase in the months after vaccination.

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