LOS ANGELES – Los Angeles County reported 1,869 new cases of COVID-19 and 29 additional deaths Monday, but officials said the relatively low number of cases and deaths may reflect reporting delays over the holiday weekend.
The number of coronavirus patients in county hospitals continues to fall, dropping from 3,270 Sunday to 3,092, with 30% of those people in intensive care, according to the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health.
However, updated figures released by California’s health department — which are a day ahead of the county — show that the number of county residents in the hospital with the coronavirus has now fallen below 3,000, at 2,964. The county’s hospitalization rate has dropped sharply since peaking at more than 8,000 in early January, and has declined 60% since Jan. 15. The countywide unadjusted adult ICU bed occupancy was 86%. The seven-day average for the county’s daily test positivity rate, which has also been steadily declining, dropped from 5.3% Sunday to 5.2%, down 64% in one month.
Meanwhile, with vaccine supplies still limited, the county of Los Angeles will reserve the majority of its available vaccinations this week to provide second doses for those ready to receive them, with county- operated large-scale sites exclusively administering second doses, health officials announced.
“The majority of appointments at our vaccinations sites will continue to be for second doses,” said Dr. Paul Simon, chief science officer for the county, said Friday. “We will only be providing second doses at our Mega- POD (point of dispending) sites.”
Simon said first doses will be available at other locations, primarily at health centers, pharmacies “and other providers that serve the areas hardest hit by the COVID-19 pandemic.”
The county has been receiving roughly 200,000 doses each week, although the actual amount has varied wildly week-to-week, making advance planning for reservations difficult.
“We share their frustration,” Simon said. “We’re all frustrated. We know that we could do much more if we had more doses. For example, we’re now receiving about 200,000 doses each week, and as we’ve surveyed all of our providers, we’re confident that we could administer up to 600,000 doses a week. So we have much, much greater capacity if we can get the available vaccine.”
Simon and county Health Officer Dr. Muntu Davis both said increasing supplies will be critical as more people become eligible for the shots — noting that the state plans to expand eligibility next month to all people aged 16 or over who have underlying medical conditions or disabilities that make them highly susceptible to death or severe illness from COVID-19.
This week’s second dose appointments were automatically scheduled for those who received their first dose from January 18-23. Patients who qualify should have received a text message and/or an email with their second appointment details.
Davis recognized the generally improving downward trends in daily cases, but stressed that while the numbers are getting better, they’re still high, and “the risk of running into someone with COVID-19 who may not know it is still very high.”
Simon said that most recent figures show 1,345,949 doses have been administered in the county, with 1,047,074 of them first doses. A total of 13.5% of the county’s population aged 16 and over have received at least one dose, and 3.8% of that population are fully vaccinated.