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Coronavirus

As LA County readies to move to yellow tier vaccinations drop by half

Moving into the yellow tier allows for increases in capacity in many sectors

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Photo Credit: County of Los Angeles

LOS ANGELES – As Los Angeles County continues to meet the State’s yellow tier criteria for one more week, the County could enter into the yellow tier in the middle of next week public health officials say.  

Alarming officials however, is the fact that appointments for the first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine have decreased by about 50% in the County, following a similar trend across California and the nation.

“I do know that across the county this past week we saw much fewer people coming in to get vaccinated. For the first time ever, we’ve had appointments at many vaccination sites that have not been filled,” said Dr. Barbara Ferrer, the County’s Public Health Director told reporters Thursday.

It is likely to mean that for the first time, the county will not administer 95% of its supply over a seven-day period, she noted.

The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health confirmed 42 new deaths and 416 new cases of COVID-19 as of Thursday.

Los Angeles County’s case rate remains relatively low and stable.  A month ago, on March 21, the County was seeing 433 cases a day. A month later, on April 21, the number of new cases dropped 34% to 337 cases a day. Over the same time period, daily average confirmed hospitalizations dropped 38%. Daily deaths dropped even more dramatically over the same time period, from 22 on March 21 to 4 on April 21, a drop of more than 80%.

There are 410 people with COVID-19 currently hospitalized and 26% of these people are in the ICU. Testing results are available for nearly 6,500,000 individuals with 18% of people testing positive. Today’s daily test positivity rate is 0.8%.

L.A. County has remained in the State’s orange tier for more than three weeks and now has met the yellow tier’s criteria for one week.  If, as anticipated, Los Angeles County continues to meet the State’s yellow tier criteria for one more week, the County could enter into the yellow tier in the middle of next week.

Moving into the yellow tier allows for increases in capacity in many sectors, and allows bars to begin providing indoor service at 25% capacity.  All of these changes will still require safety modifications, including masking, distancing and infection control to reduce the risk of transmission. 

The sectors with increases in capacity limits include amusement parks and fairs, gyms and fitness centers, yoga studios, private events, bars, hotels and short-term lodging rentals, private gatherings, breweries, indoor playgrounds, restaurants, cardrooms  and racetracks, indoor and outdoor live events  and performances, wineries and tasting rooms, family entertainment centers, and museums, zoos, and aquariums.

Natural History Museum (Photo Credit: County of Los Angeles)

If the County moves to the yellow tier next week, a modified Health Officer Order will be posted on Wednesday, May 5 that will go into effect on Thursday, May 6.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued new guidance indicating that vaccinated people can do many outdoor activities in uncrowded spaces unmasked including attending small gatherings with unvaccinated people, dining outdoors with friends from multiple households, and walking, running or cycling outdoors.

Fully vaccinated individuals are required to mask up at crowded outdoor events, like live performances, parades, or sports events.  The Health Officer Order will be updated today to align with the change in CDC recommendations around masking for fully vaccinated people.

Photo Credit: County of Los Angeles

Public Health has made vaccinations available without appointments at all of County sites for the past week, and this will continue through next week. Everyone 16 and older living or working in L.A. County can walk-in and get vaccinated. You should bring a photo ID with you and teens 16 and 17 should be accompanied by a parent or guardian.

Visit: www.VaccinateLACounty.com (English) and www.VacunateLosAngeles.com (Spanish) to learn how to make an appointment at vaccination sites, what verifications people will need to show at your vaccination appointment, and much more. Vaccinations are always free and open to eligible residents and workers regardless of immigration status.

A total of 716 sites are offering vaccinations this week in L.A. County. Many of these vaccination sites are concentrated in areas that have been hard hit by the pandemic and Public Health continues working with many partners to increase access to vaccinations at their sites without appointments.

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Coronavirus

CDC backtracks and releases new guidance on facial masks

CDC’s mask guidance recommends fully vaccinated people wear masks indoors when in areas with “substantial” & “high” transmission of Covid-19

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The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Headquarters Building and Campus in Atlanta, GA (Blade file photo)

ATLANTA – The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, citing increasing concern around the fast-spreading and highly contagious delta variant on Tuesday, reversed its earlier mask guidance to specifically target areas of the country with the highest levels of the coronavirus and recommended that everyone in those areas, vaccinated or not, wear a mask as the delta variant continues to spread rapidly across the U.S.

“CDC recommends localities encourage universal indoor masking for all teachers, staff, students, and visitors to schools, regardless of vaccination status,” the CDC announced. “Children should return to full-time in-person learning in the fall with proper prevention strategies are in place.”

The White House issued a statement from President Joe Biden which read in part:

“Today’s announcement by the CDC—that new research and concerns about the Delta variant leads CDC to recommend a return to masking in parts of the country—is another step on our journey to defeating this virus. I hope all Americans who live in the areas covered by the CDC guidance will follow it; I certainly will when I travel to these areas.

Today, the CDC also reaffirmed that we can safely reopen schools this fall—full time. Masking students is inconvenient, I know, but will allow them to learn and be with their classmates with the best available protection.

Most importantly, today’s announcement also makes clear that the most important protection we have against the Delta variant is to get vaccinated. Although most U.S. adults are vaccinated, too many are not. While we have seen an increase in vaccinations in recent days, we still need to do better.”

The CDC’s mask guidance that recommends fully vaccinated people wear masks indoors when in areas with “substantial” and “high” transmission of Covid-19 includes nearly two-thirds of U.S. counties.

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Coronavirus

State employees & health care workers must show proof of vaccination

Newsom blasts ‘right-wing echo chamber’ for vaccine misinformation & claimed individuals refusing the vaccine are similar to drunk drivers.

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California Governor Gavin Newsom (Blade file photo)

SACRAMENTO – As the Delta variant continues to surge driving coronavirus case numbers higher, Governor Gavin Newsom in a press conference Monday announced California is implementing a first-in-the-nation standard to require all state workers and workers in health care and high-risk congregate settings to either show proof of full vaccination or be tested at least once per week.

“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. “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. Vaccines are safe – they protect our family, those who truly can’t get vaccinated, our children and our economy. Vaccines are the way we end this pandemic.” 

The new policy for state workers will take effect August 2 and testing will be phased in over the next few weeks. The new policy for health care workers and congregate facilities will take effect on August 9, and health care facilities will have until August 23 to come into full compliance.

 

Despite California leading the nation in vaccinations, with more than 44 million doses administered and 75 percent of the eligible population having received at least one dose, . This increase is heavily due to the Delta variant, which is more contagious and kills people faster:

  • As of last week, California’s statewide case rate more than quadrupled from a low in May of 1.9 cases/100,000/day to at least 9.5 cases/100,000. 
  • The testing positivity was at a low of 0.7 percent in June, now it has risen to 5.2 percent. 
  • Hospitalizations were at a low in June of under 900, and the state numbers are now approaching 3,000. 
  • The vast majority of new cases are among the unvaccinated, with 600 percent higher case rates among the unvaccinated than for those who are vaccinated.

“California has administered more vaccines than any other state, with 75 percent of those eligible having gotten at least one dose, and we were weeks ahead of meeting President Biden’s 70 percent goal. But we must do more to fight disinformation and encourage vaccine-hesitant communities and individuals,” said California’s Health and Human Services Secretary Dr. Mark Ghaly. “The Delta variant is up to 60 percent 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.”  

Appearing on MSNBC, Newsom aggressively lashed out at some conservatives after being asked what the governor attributed to those 25% of Californians who remain unvaccinated. Newsom responded by saying he credited “[an] overwhelming majority of misinformation by right-wing pundits.

California to require vaccinations or frequent testing of state workers:

Appearing on MSNBC and CNN, Newsom claimed that individuals who refused to take the vaccine posed a risk to the public similar to drunk driving.

“It’s like drunk drivers, you don’t have the right to go out and drink and drive and put everybody else at risk including your own life,” the governor said.

Newsom also denounced high-profile conservatives, including Fox News host Tucker Carlson. In a harsh exchange on Twitter, Newsom aggressively put down an attack by Georgia Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R) a noted QAnon and conspiracy afficando:

In addition to these new measures, the state continues its efforts to vaccinate Californians. Last week, California surpassed 2 million newly vaccinated individuals since launching its incentive program, Vax for the Win. The program increased HPI Q1 vaccinations, and increased doses administered to the Latinx population by 10 percent. It also successfully slowed the rate of decline that California was experiencing in vaccination rates.

The program’s peak showed a 33 percent increase in vaccinations, “outpacing the inoculation trends in much of the country,” including more recently a 4.4 percent increase for the week ending July 14 – a promising sign in California, as vaccination rates declined nationwide. 

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Coronavirus

Fauci says CDC may now back masks as Delta variant explodes

Caused by the Delta variant, 40% of all cases reported in the United States occurred in three states, Texas, Missouri and Florida.

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WASHINGTON – Dr. Anthony Fauci told CNN’s Sunday morning political talk show “State of the Union” that he’s taken part in conversations about the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention altering its masking guidelines, which he described as being “under active consideration.”

Fauci, the chief medical advisor to President Joe Biden, also acknowledged that in some jurisdictions where infection rates are surging are already mandating individuals to wear masks in public regardless of their vaccination status. He added those mandates are not incompatible with the CDC’s recommendation that the vaccinated don’t need to wear masks in public.

CNN’s Jake Tapper pointed out that in the most recent surge caused by the Delta variant, 40% of all coronavirus cases reported in the United States occurred in three states, Texas, Missouri and Florida. Tapper and Fauci both noted that the sudden explosion in COVID-19 was primarily caused by those Americans, 12-years-old and older who remained unvaccinated.

Politico reported that the Republican governor of Arkansas on Sunday said resistance to the coronavirus vaccine “has hardened” in some areas of the state, blaming the hesitancy on “false information” and “myths.”

“I don’t know if I underestimated it, but, certainly, the resistance has hardened in certain elements, and is simply false information,” Gov. Asa Hutchinson said in an interview on CNN’s “State of the Union.”

“It is myths. As I go into these town hall meetings, someone said: Don’t call it a vaccine. Call it a bioweapon. And they talk about mind control,” Hutchinson said. “Well, those are obviously erroneous. Other members of the community correct that.”

Delta Variant Fuels Surge Of New Cases Across U.S.

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