Los Angeles County’s number of COVID-19-positive hospital patients held mostly steady Monday, increasing by one, while the county reported just five new virus-related deaths.
Numbers of new fatalities and COVID infections tend to be low on Mondays due to delays in reporting from the weekend. The five new COVID deaths reported Monday gave the county an overall death toll of 26,018. The county reported another 986 cases, for a pandemic total of 1,455,155. According to state figures, where were 908 people hospitalized in the county with COVID, up from 907 on Sunday, with 278 people in intensive care, the same number as the previous day.
The number of COVID-positive people hospitalized in the county has fallen 25 times in the past 28 days, bringing the number down from a summer peak of nearly 1,800. The rolling average daily rate of people testing positive for the virus in the county is 1.1%.
“While the science about the virus continues to advance, there should be no confusion about the effectiveness of the vaccines at moving us more quickly to low rates of community transmission,” county Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer said in a statement Monday. “For those whose work includes supporting our most vulnerable — those who are sick or facing an emergency or needing help or cannot be vaccinated — we ask that you do your part and comply with vaccination requirements.”
“This pandemic has made it clear that individual decisions have an enormous impact on our collective well-being,” Ferrer said. “While it is easy to cast safety measures and vaccination requirements as a curtailment of individual freedoms, it is perhaps more useful to view these as sensible actions that allow us to protect each other from a virus that destroys lives and livelihoods.”
The county noted that beginning Friday, Oct. 1, COVID vaccination providers will be required by the state to ask for patients’ email address and cell phone number so they can be included in the State’s Immunization Registry, enabling people to access a digital vaccine record.
County officials noted over the weekend that they’re continuing to see an overall downward trend in COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations and deaths, providing some reassurance that higher vaccination rates and safety precautions at Labor Day celebrations helped avert the usual increase in cases experienced after major holidays.
On Sept. 15, the seven-day daily average of new COVID-19 cases was 1,476, the lowest it has been since July 14. Meanwhile, hospitalizations dropped by 17% week-over-week, and after a long plateau, deaths have also declined slightly, according to the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health.
According to U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention thresholds, transmission in L.A. County has moved from the “high” to the “substantial” level, with a weekly case rate of 86 new cases per 100,000 residents.
As of Sept. 19, 92% of L.A. County residents aged 65 years and over had received at least one dose of vaccine, as had 78% of residents 16 years and over and 77% of residents 12 years and over. Sixty-eight percent of residents 12 years and over have been fully vaccinated.
Meanwhile, booster shots of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccination have officially become available in Los Angeles County for select residents, with federal health officials giving final approval to the additional vaccine dose to bolster virus protection for higher-risk groups. An advisory panel for the CDC on Thursday recommended Pfizer booster shots for people 65 and older, those in long-term care facilities and people 50- 64 with underlying health conditions, as well as select people aged 18-49 with serious health issues.
CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky on Friday endorsed the recommendation, and expanded it to include people at increased risk of infection due to their occupation.
Booster shots are only available for people who received their second dose of the Pfizer vaccine at least six months ago. Boosters have not yet been approved for people who received the Moderna or Johnson & Johnson vaccines.
Appointments for booster shots can be made through the state’s MyTurn website. Appointments can also be made directly at pharmacies or clinics that offer Pfizer vaccines.
Ferrer has noted that the county has 1,300 fixed vaccination sites, along with 400 mobile clinics, meaning there’s a local capacity to administer 130,000 shots per day, so the county is well-positioned to handle demand for booster shots.