This week’s COVID-19 stats are still pretty good, but while the daily numbers of new cases didn’t get as high as they did last week (where they topped out at 813 one day), they also didn’t go as low as last week (when the lowest day saw just 366 cases). Instead, they seem to have settled into a groove between 450 and 650 new cases per day.
The news about case rates (the number of new cases per 100,000 residents) wasn’t quite as positive, however, with our largest local neighborhoods all showing increases in case rates over the last week, as shown below.
These were the specific percentage increases in case rates for the numbers graphed above:
Koreatown: 400% growth
Melrose: 50% growth
Hancock Park: 40% growth
Miracle Mile: 100% growth
Wilshire Center: 200% growth
Finally in general COVID-19 news today, LA County Health Director Barbara Ferrer also noted the uptick in case rates in her weekly address today, but pointed out that the situation at the moment is very different from the last time we saw these kinds of increases – mostly because of the availability and widening uses of vaccines. According to Ferrer, more than six million of LA Couty’s 10 million residents have now received at least one dose of a COVID vaccine, and 2.2 million have received both doses.
Ferrer did note that there have been – as expected – some “breakthrough” cases of COVID-19 among fully vaccinated individuals. But while about 1 in 10,000 people now test positive for COVID after being vaccinated, she said, the severity of those infections is much milder than before vaccinations were available. Historically, she said, the COVID-19 death rate has been about 2% (or two out of every 100 cases) in unvaccinated individuals, but the current death rate among people who have been fully vaccinated is only about one in every one million cases.
In other vaccination news over the last week, there were both positives and negatives. On the (very) positive side, as of April 15, all Angelenos ages 16 and up are now eligible to be vaccinated (though those 16 and 17 are currently limited to the Pfizer vaccine), and there are a great many places to get vaccinated. You can book appointments through LA County, the city’s website via CarbonHealth, any of the large health care organizations your family may be affiliated with (UCLA Health, USC’s Keck Medicine, Kaiser Permanente, etc.), and many pharmacies (Ralphs, CVS, etc.). There are also many one-time and occasional vaccine events popping up in neighborhoods throughout the city, especially in areas that are traditionally underserved by health care and other services.
On the down side, of course, was the CDC’s order to temporarily pause use of the Johnson and Johnson single-dose vaccine, based on a small number of blood clot reports. The J&J vaccine has been handy for those who find it hard to schedule or travel to two separate vaccination appointments, and for those who would simply prefer to have just one shot instead of two. The pause has reduced overall vaccine supplies a bit…but it’s possible the delays will only be temporary. According to Dr. Anthony Fauci, a decision about whether or not to resume the vaccine’s use should be made by Friday of this week.
Finally, on the upside again, LAUSD schools are now in week two of their gradual reopening. As of today, all elementary school campuses and Early Education Centers are open for families who have elected to have their children return to a physical classroom, and middle and high school campuses will re-open next Monday.
In his weekly address to the community this morning, LAUSD Superintendent Austin Beutner said that in the last week, “I had a chance to talk with students, families and staff about how it felt to be back at
school. Some were nervous about their first day of kindergarten, or taking their first COVID test, others had questions about what it would look like or how things would work, but all were excited and happy to be back together…For over a year the halls have been empty and the playgrounds barren. There is no better sound than that of children at school, and that sound is back in schools throughout Los Angeles Unified.”
Beutner reminded families, however, that before students return to campus, they must have a COVID test at some point during the week before school starts, and families can schedule an appointment by going to http://dailypass.lausd.net, calling L A Unified’s COVID help hotline at (213) 443-1300, or walking in to any of the District’s 43 school-based test sites. All of Los Angeles Unified’s schoolbased testing centers will be open 7 days a week, from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., through April 25th.
Beutner also announced that, as planned last week, the District’s Grab & Go Food Centers have now been retired, with food distribution moved “back to a school-based meal program focused on students.” During their existence, Beutner said, the Grab & Go sites “provided children and adults with 123,232,019 meals, along with about 30 million items of much-needed supplies. More than 93 million of the meals were provided to children and almost 30 million meals to adults.” Under the new system, all LAUSD students – whether studying online or on a physical campus – will be provided with three meals per day. Those on campus will receive a lunch to eat at school, and will take home both dinner and breakfast. Students who have opted for at-home instruction for the remainder of the school year can still pick up meals at their local school site.
Finally, Beutner reminded District families that LAUSD has opened 25 school-based vaccination sites for students and their famlies. Families can make an appointment online, by calling the district hotline (see graphic below), or just walking in. Beutner said the school-based approach to vaccinations will be especially valuable “in the months ahead when vaccines are proven safe and effective for children. Ninety percent of people on a school campus at any point in time are children. Herd immunity won’t be reached at schools or in the broader community until children are vaccinated.” And Beutner said even more school-based vaccination centers are in the works as the availability of vaccine doses increases.