LOS ANGELES – With COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations continuing to decline, Los Angeles County health officials Tuesday urged residents to maintain infection-control measures such as face masks and social distancing, saying the region is in the “home stretch” but needs to reach the finish line.
The urging came on a day the county celebrated its rate of new cases dropping enough to allow elementary schools to resume in-person instruction for students in pre-kindergarten through sixth grade.
“As we wait for more vaccinations, please follow the rules and use all the tools we have to keep ourselves and others as safe as possible from becoming infected,” county Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer said. “Any time you’re out of your home and around others, we ask that you keep physical distance and wear a mask at all times. Wash your hands frequently. Please don’t gather with people you don’t live with.”
County Supervisor Hilda Solis added, “We’re in the home stretch. We just have to see it through together.”
The county reported another 120 COVID-19 deaths on Tuesday, lifting the overall death toll from throughout the pandemic to 19,215. Another 1,260 cases were also confirmed, although the number is believed to be artificially low due to reporting lags from testing centers due to the long holiday weekend. The cases increased the cumulative countywide total since the pandemic began to 1,169,550. View the latest detailed report by city and demographics here.
According to state figures, there were 2,855 people hospitalized in the county due to COVID-19 as of Tuesday, with 876 people in intensive care. That number is significantly down from the more than 8,000 patients reported in early January. With vaccine supplies still limited, the county 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 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. The need for more vaccines will become more critical in coming weeks. Vaccines are currently being offered to health care workers, people 65 and over, and staff and residents of long-term care facilities. The county plans on March 1 to make vaccines available to three classes of essential workers: education/child care; food and agriculture; and emergency services and law enforcement.
Making those groups eligible will add about 1.5 million people to the pool of residents seeking shots. The pool will expand further March 15, when the state has called for vaccines to be made available to anyone aged 16 or older with an underlying health condition that makes them particularly susceptible to severe illness or death from COVID.