LOS ANGELES:- Since this surge began in early-November, deaths increased by more than 1,000%. Deaths increased from 12 deaths a day in early-November to more than 200 daily reported deaths last week. To date, Public Health identified 932,697 positive cases of COVID-19 across all areas of L.A. County and a total of 12,387 deaths. Every minute, on average, 10 people in L.A. County test positive for COVID -19, and these 15,000 individuals who test positive each day were capable of infecting others for two days before they had any symptoms or knew they were positive. At least 10-12% of people infected with the virus end up hospitalized at some point, and more than 1% of people diagnosed with COVID-19 end up dying.
Now is the time to avoid, as much as possible, contact with others that aren’t in your household. When you must go out, to work or for essential services, always wear a mask, keep your distance from others, wash your hands frequently, and bring sanitizing wipes with you to wipe down your cell phone, your car keys, your workstations, the door handles and anything you touch and anything other people are touching. This is the time to be extremely cautious and very careful.
The damaging impact to our families and our local hospitals from this surge is the worst disaster our county has experienced in decades. And, as with other terrifying situations, the end of the surge only happens when more people and businesses take control and do the right thing. The biggest single factor contributing to the surge comes down to the actions individuals are taking. We need everyone to do the right thing – to protect each other so we stop the transmission that is now occurring at epic proportions.
Of the 137 new deaths reported today, 55 people that passed away were over the age of 80, 48 people who died were between the ages of 65 and 79, 25 people who died were between the ages of 50 and 64, and seven people who died were between the ages of 30 and 49. Two deaths were reported by the City of Pasadena.
There are 7,910 people with COVID-19 currently hospitalized and 22% of these people are in the ICU. The County has gone from an average of 791 people hospitalized with COVID-19 two months ago to an average of around 8,000 patients. That is an increase of more than 1,000%.
As of last week, hospitals received 220,000 COVID-19 vaccine doses and vaccinated 160,000 healthcare workers; about 75% completion rate. Hospitals began providing their eligible staff second doses last week and more than 22,000 healthcare workers are now fully vaccinated. Hospitals received 37,000 additional doses last week, in addition to the 60,000 remaining doses, to ensure they can continue to provide second doses this week. Hospitals have 74,000 confirmed vaccination appointments for their healthcare workers this week.
We are pleased with the progress of vaccinations at our skilled nursing facilities and want to thank both county and city staff and our partner, Curative, all who have sent teams and mobile units to these facilities to accelerate the pace of vaccinations. Among 54,500 eligible residents and staff at 322 skilled nursing facilities that completed last week’s survey, 67% of employees and 66% of residents have been vaccinated. Individuals with active infection are not eligible for vaccination and some employees work at more than one site and therefore are not vaccinated at each site. The remaining 18 skilled nursing facilities are all being assisted by Public Health, City, and County teams with their vaccination efforts in hopes that these are completed by next week.
Starting today, per the State’s direction, Public Health expanded the vaccination program to include all healthcare workers within Tiers 2 and 3 in Phase 1A. More than 75 vaccination locations have been established to facilitate the administration of doses to individuals within these tiers. To date, we have opened more than 20 designated vaccination centers for frontline healthcare workers in Phase 1A and have made arrangements with multiple pharmacies to facilitate vaccinations for frontline healthcare workers and others within Phase 1A. Please visit the Healthcare Provider Information Hub and scroll to the bottom of the page for details on how to make an appointment.
Public Health, in collaboration with the County Fire Department, Internal Services Department and the Office of Emergency Management, is planning to open five large-capacity vaccination sites next week that will speed up vaccinations for frontline healthcare workers in Phase 1A. Public Health department staff are being reassigned in order to expand capabilities for this short-term effort. These five sites, in addition to our private partner sites, will allow us to complete 500,000 additional vaccinations among healthcare workers by the end of January.
As the County nears the end of Phase 1A at the end of January, we can look to starting vaccinations for groups within next phase 1B. The County expects to begin vaccinations for eligible individuals in Phase 1B, assuming we have ample vaccines allocated to the county, by early February. Following that, we expect to begin vaccinations for persons within Phase 1C in late March.
A full description of who qualifies for either Phase 1B or Phase 1C both include essential workers in some categories of work as well as people who are older and in Phase 1C, people with underlying health conditions.
For more detailed information on COVID-19 vaccination plans in L.A. County and to sign up for a vaccination newsletter, visit: www.VaccinateLACounty.com
Public Health will host a COVID-19 Vaccine Town Hall on January 19 to allow residents to learn more details about the vaccine and our program to immunize as many people as possible in the coming weeks and months. The town hall will be streamed live on Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube @lapublichealth. For more information, visit www.publichealth.lacounty.gov.
“We extend our deepest sympathies to everyone who is saddened, who is struggling with the loss of a loved one or friend who passed away from COVID-19. Our prayers and thoughts are with you always,” said Barbara Ferrer, PhD, MPH, MEd, Director of Public Health. “We are approaching the one-year anniversary of our first known positive case in L.A. County. We understand it’s been a long and exhausting journey these past 12 months. With the roll out of vaccinations, there is hope for a brighter future. However, we need to make sure everyone survives to benefit from the vaccine. Now is not the time to meet with friends at your home to watch the game. It is not the time to go for a walk without a mask. All it takes is one mistake and soon, five, 10 or 20 other people become infected – many of whom could be your friends, family members, or colleagues. This deadly virus continues to spread at alarming rates and the most important way to stop it in its tracks is to avoid interactions with others and protect ourselves at all times.”
While the surge has not impacted people experiencing homelessness to the same degree as others, there has been an increase in deaths among people experiencing homelessness. In early December, there were about 2 deaths a week among people experiencing homelessness and now for the seven-day period ending January 2, there were 14 deaths among people experiencing homelessness.
Another highly vulnerable group are people who are incarcerated. Since this pandemic began, County, State and Federal authorities have worked to help reduce the potential for outbreaks at prisons and jail facilities in Los Angeles County. During the previous surge last spring, we received reports of 3 deaths in a week for people who were incarcerated. For the most recent weekly report ending January 2, there were a total of 4 deaths over these seven days.
Every death is heartbreaking. One small glimmer of hope is that while overall deaths have increased dramatically over the past two months among L.A. County residents, the numbers of deaths among skilled nursing facilities has not increased at the same pace. In the spring, about half of all deaths from COVID-19 occurred at skilled nursing facilities. Now, deaths at skilled nursing facilities represent less than 6% of all deaths from COVID-19.
A lot of effort has been spent to protect residents and staff at nursing facilities, especially after the high death rates that occurred back in the spring. The efforts to reduce transmission have helped reduce mortality, and now the important work is to continue all those efforts while completing vaccinations of residents and employees at long-term care facilities.
Testing results are available for nearly 5,020,000 individuals with 18% of people testing positive.
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