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COVID-19 Update: Some Signs of Stabilization; Good News About Vaccines


The COVID-19 news is largely positive this week, with some stabilization in the number of new cases reported each day, the new availability of vaccines for babies and toddlers, and news that our current vaccines are still proving effective in the face of the ever-evolving virus.

First, in local numbers, Dr. Paul Simon, LA County’s Chief Science Officer, reported in this week’s LA County Health Department update that our daily average number of new cases was just over 4,400, which is a slight decrease from the last week or two.  Hospitalizations were also fairly stable over the week, as were deaths.  Simon noted, however, that while this could signal a slowdown in the surge we’ve been seeing over the last month or so, it could also be the result of school being out – which means that LAUSD is no longer testing hundreds of thousands of people per week, as it was doing during the school year, so a lot fewer people overall are being tested now, and that means there may also be fewer cases being identified each week.



While new cases didn’t rise as fast this week, however, they didn’t fall significantly, either, which means LA County remains in the “medium” community tier this week, as defined by the CDC.  Simon said we definitely do still have a high rate of transmission, and could still move into the high community tier if our case rate, now at 7.3 cases per 100,000 residents, grows to more than 10 cases per 100,000.



If the current transmission rates continue, Simon said, we could hit that “high” tier, which – if we remained there for two consecutive weeks – would trigger mandatory indoor mask mandates again, by mid-July.  This is an improvement from the last few weeks, however, when trend lines predicted hitting the high tier by the end of June or early July.  Simon noted that we can help slow things down even more by choosing right now – even without official mask mandates – to wear masks in crowded and indoor public spaces whenever possible.



More tentatively good news this week comes from the early alert signals LA County is tracking, only one of which (the percentage of COVID-19 specimens identified as a variant of concern) meets the threshold for high concern.  Four of the other early warning indicators are of medium concern this week, and two – wastewater monitoring and infections in settings for people experiencing homelessness – are now of low concern.



Once again this week, 100% of our local cases are attributable to some form of the Omicron variant of COVID-19.  Of these, the number of BA.4 and BA.5 cases (the red segments in the graph below) grew slightly – a sign, Simon said, of the ever-evolving nature and constantly changing landscape of variants.  Meanwhile, Simon reported, the BA.2.12.1 and BA.2.3 variants subsided a bit, while the blue segments in the graph below, representing other BA.2 sublineages, grew a bit this week.  But some of those case strains have not yet been identified, Simon said, as shown by the lightest blue part of the graph for the last two weeks, and could eventually end up in one of the other BA.2.x categories.



Another metric still being monitored by LA County is the percentage of emergency department encounters classified as coronavirus-related, and those numbers continued to rise slightly this week, Simon said, though they’re still firmly within the medium range of concern.



In some better news, though, the cumulative case rate for the lowest income areas of the County (which are often a harbinger of things to come for the rest of the county) continued a definite downward slide this week, for the second week in a row.  (Simon cautioned, though, that this metric, too, may have been significantly affected by the end of the school year and the end of weekly in-school testing for hundreds of thousands of LAUSD students, many of whom live in these disadvantaged areas.)



Meanwhile, levels of COVID-19 in LA County wastewater sample rose this week, but they, too, are still within the medium level of concern…



…and wastewater samples from LA City Sanitation showed very stable levels of COVID-19 this week.



And there’s more good news on the vaccine front.  First, although the number of breakthrough cases among fully vaccinated people has continued to grow over the last few months (not surprising, Simon said, because the most recent variants tend to be much more transmissible than previous strains of the virus), there is still a clear difference in infections, hospitalizations, and deaths between those who are and are not vaccinated.  Currently, Simon reported, people who are unvaccinated are still 1.57 times more likely to be infected with COVID-19, 3.8 times more likely to be hosplitalized when sick than those who are vaccinated, and 7.75 times more likely to die from COVID-19.



Or, to put it another way, out of nearly 7 million people in LA County who are fully vaccinated, less than 1 million have tested positive for COVID-19, fewer than 15,000 have become sick enough to be hospitalized, and fewer than 2,500 – just .03% (3 out of every 10,000) have died from COVID-19.



So the vaccines are definitely working, and the County is continuing its efforts to encourage a residents to get both vaccinated and boosted when eligible.  Currently, children ages 5-17 who received two initial doses of the Pfizer vaccine are eligible for boosters at least five months after their second shot…while adults 18 years who received either the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines are eligible for boosters of either vaccine at least five months after their second shot.  And adults over the age of 50 who received either the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines and boosters are eligible for a second booster of either type (fourth shot overall) at least four months after their first booster.  Finally, adults who received the Johnson & Johnson single-shot vaccine initially are eligible for a booster after just two months…and adults over the age of 50 are eligible for a second booster at least four months after their first.



For more information about current vaccination rates, maps, protocols and more, see the County’s new vaccination dashboard, just launched on Thursday, at

And to find out where to get vaccinated, see, where you can search by zip code, vaccine typ, ages, and more.  And it’s also worth noting, Simon said, that you don’t need to be a U.S. Citizen to be vaccinated, and photo IDs are optional at LA County-sponsored vaccination sites.



Finally, of course, the biggest vaccine news this week is that the CDC – as expected last week, has approved COVID-19 vaccinations for babies and toddlers ages 6 months to four years, and those shots are now available at more than 900 locations throughout LA County, including county-sponsored sites, pediatricians’ offices, pharmacies, and more.  Simon cautioned, though, that since the vaccine supplies are still coming in, they may still be a bit limited at some locations, and pediatricians may have more in stock, at least right now, than pharmacies.  (Pharmacies also cannot vaccinate children younger than age 3, Simon said, so parents of the youngest children should also see their pediatricians for that reason.)

Simon did say, though, that he’s hopeful that vaccinations for this age range will be popular, and that while parents may have some hesitations about vaccinating such young kids, they also tend to be closest to their pediatricians when kids are in this age range, and pediatricians are fully on board for the vaccination effort, as well as one of the best sources for shots right now, so that should help boost the overall vaccination rate for this age group.



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Elizabeth Fuller
Elizabeth Fuller
Elizabeth Fuller was born and raised in Minneapolis, MN but has lived in LA since 1991 - with deep roots in both the Sycamore Square and West Adams Heights-Sugar Hill neighborhoods. She spent 10 years with the Greater Wilshire Neighborhood Council, volunteers at Wilshire Crest Elementary School, and has been writing for the Buzz since 2015.

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