January 21, 2021 at 6:41 pm PST | by Brody Levesque
Vaccine supply continues to hinder roll-out- Plateau in LA cases as White House ramps up federal effort
Mayor Garcetti briefs reporters at Dodger Stadium Thursday. (Screenshot via KTLA)

LOS ANGELES – Speaking to reporters from Dodger Stadium, the city’s mega-vaccination site, Mayor Eric Garcetti acknowledged that the shortages in the vaccine supply was presenting some difficulties as the city and the county public health department strive to get the most vulnerable Angelenos, those 65 and older vaccinated.

The mayor said that he has been focused on propping up the city’s five new vaccination distribution centers, which this week joined others countywide in expanding availability to elderly at risk residents and continuing to vaccinate front line workers and healthcare workers.

Los Angeles County residents who are 65 and older will be able to sign up to get a COVID-19 vaccine in Los Angeles County which started this week. LA County and City residents can get an appointment for a vaccination here. Those without internet access can call a 24/7 call center at 833-540-0473.

Garcetti acknowledged that the County Public Health was in charge of the programs, noting that the pace of vaccinations depends on how many doses they get from the federal and state governments. Garcetti also said city officials are “working day and night” to expedite the process, reiterating that vaccine availability “is not and will never be in our direct control.”

The county has received 685,000 doses and nearly 350,000 have been administered through last week, Public Health said Wednesday. About 168,000 new doses will be arriving this week to be used at sites.

Blade Photo by Noah Christiansen

The city has increased staffing to reduce wait times and make the process more efficient. More than 80,000 people have gotten a shot at the five city-run sites since they first opened, including more than 46,600 this week — a 90% increase since last week, Garcetti said.

The Mayor also said that he expects the stadium site to be able to vaccinate up to 12,000 people a day once it’s operating at full capacity.

The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health (Public Health) confirmed 262 new deaths and 8,512 new cases of COVID-19 Thursday. There are currently 7,263 people currently hospitalized with COVID-19, and 23% of these people are in the ICU.

Public Health has identified 1,046,021 positive cases of COVID-19 across all areas of L.A. County and a total of 14,641 deaths. Last week, the seven-day average of new cases was 15,182. This week, the seven-day average of cases is 10,560, a decrease of 30 percent. Hospitalizations have also decreased this week, down 7 percent since last week Thursday. 

Only Los Angeles County healthcare workers in Phase 1A or County residents aged 65 and older are eligible to get their vaccination currently. Appointments are mandatory. With limited COVID-19 vaccine supply, vaccination appointments are near or at capacity at L.A. County vaccination sites. Those who are currently eligible are encouraged to check back often as there may be cancelations.

While the County is operating five large-scale vaccination sites, in addition to LA City’s vaccination site at Dodger Stadium, most residents will ultimately be vaccinated at doctor’s offices, clinics, pharmacies, and other licensed community vaccination sites as more vaccine becomes available.

“The process of getting everyone in L.A. county vaccinated will take several months and depends on vaccine availability. This is the most expansive vaccination campaign in recent history and further complicated by cold chain requirements and the need for two doses,” said Dr. Barbara Ferrer, Director of Public Health.

“We are asking everyone to be patient while we work through the rollout of our currently limited supply of vaccine from the State. Our team is working very hard to ensure that once we receive vaccine doses they are distributed quickly through a vast network of private and public partners.”

In Washington, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki commenced the daily briefing by turning it over to Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and Chief Medical Advisor to the President Biden. Psaki told reporters that “Dr. Fauci is here with us as part of the President’s commitment to have public health experts lead our communication with the American people about the pandemic.”

Fauci briefed reporters on the state of the pandemic, the Vaccine roll-out efforts and then a brief educational sketch on the variants of the coronavirus in strains of the virus which had mutated. he then took a few questions.

Dr. Fauci briefs reporters Thursday, January 21, 2021. (Screenshot via C-SPAN)

One reporter quivered Fauci on the South Africa strain which has concerned health officials in the United States as well as the UK. “Dr. Fauci, a couple of questions, if I might.  I’d like to follow up with you on what you just said about this strain in South Africa.  Has that strain made its way to the United States?  And what, if any, concerns do you have?  How much do we understand about it?”

Fauci then responded,   “Great question.  Thus far, it does not appear at all that the South African strain is in the United States.  However, we must be honest and say that the level of comprehensive sequence surveillance thus far is not at the level that we would have liked.  So we’re going to be looking very, very carefully for it.  But given the information we have today, it doesn’t appear that the South African strain is here.

Asked about the pace of the vaccine roll-out, in particular President Biden’s statements that he wanted to see 100,000,000 (million) Americans vaccinated in the first 100 days of his administration, Fauci replied;  “Yes, it is.  I mean, I believe that the goal that was set by the President of getting 100 million people vaccinated in the first hundred days is quite a reasonable goal. 

And when you get to the point — and one of the things that I think is something we need to pay attention to — and I, quite frankly, have been spending a considerable amount of my own time — is outreaching particularly to minority communities to make sure that you get them to be vaccinated and you explain why it’s so important for themselves, their family, and their community. 

If we get 70 to 85 percent of the country vaccinated — let’s say by the end of the summer, middle of the summer — I believe by the time we get to the fall, we will be approaching a degree of normality.  It’s not going to be perfectly normal, but one that I think will take a lot of pressure off the American public.”

Psaki then laid out for reporters the actions that the president had taken prior to the briefing:

“So, as you know, just a few moments ago, the president also released a national COVID-19 strategy and signed 10 executive orders and other directives to move quickly to contain the crisis.
Underpinning everything the president signed today and everything we do every day will be equity.  Some highlights of those actions include an executive order to fill supply shortfalls for vaccinations, testing, and PPE.  The president directed agencies to exercise all appropriate authorities, including the Defense Production Act; to accelerate manufacturing and delivering of supplies, such as N95 masks, gowns, gloves, PCR swabs, test reagents, and necessary equipment and material for the vaccine. 

Biden signs COVID01 executive orders, Thursday, January 21, 2021 (Screenshot via C-SPAN)

Biden signed:

  • A presidential memorandum to increase federal reimbursement to states and tribes for the cost of National Guard personnel, emergency supplies, and the personnel and equipment needed to create vaccination centers
  • An executive order that established a COVID-19 pandemic testing board to bring the full force of the federal government’s expertise to expanding testing supply and increasing access to testing
  • An executive order to bolster access to COVID-19 treatments and clinical care, establishing a comprehensive and coordinated preclinical drug discovery and development program to allow therapeutics to be evaluated and developed in response to pandemic threats. 
President Biden speaks with reporters prior to signing executive orders.
(Screenshot via C-SPAN)

Biden also issued executive actions which included;

  • An executive order directing the Departments of Education and Health and Human Services to provide guidance on safe reopening and operating for schools, childcare providers, and institutions of higher education
  • An executive order on the Occupational Safety and Health Administration to immediately release clear guidance for employers to help keep workers safe from COVID-19 exposure
  • An executive order to require mask wearing in airports or certain modes of public transportation, including many trains, airplanes, maritime vessels, and intercity buses
  • And an executive order establishing a COVID-19 Health Equity Task Force — something previously announced, but making it official today — to provide specific recommendations to the president for allocating resources and funding in communities with inequities in COVID-19 outcomes by race, ethnicity, geography, disability, and other considerations. 
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