With COVID-19 cases increasing rapidly again, the LA County Department of Public Health announced yesterday – one month to the day after businesses were allowed to re-open at full capacity, with masks required only for those who are unvaccinated – that all residents, including those who are fully vaccinated, will once again be required to wear masks indoors as of 11:59 p.m. Saturday night.
In a statement yesterday, the Health Department said:
“Community transmission of COVID-19 has rapidly increased from Moderate to Substantial, based on the trend in daily new cases of COVID-19. The Los Angeles County Health Officer Order will be modified to require masking for everyone while indoors, regardless of vaccination status, as Los Angeles County sees more than a seven-times increase in new cases since the June 15 reopening.”
According to the health department, wearing masks indoors “reduces the risk of both getting and transmitting the virus” and “can help to slow the spread and does not limit business occupancy and operations.”
In addition to the rise in daily new cases (from 210 on June 15 to 1,537 on July 15), other metrics reflect the new surge, too — especially the county’s test positivity rate, which has soared from 0.5% to 3.7%, an increase of 700%, in the last month.
For an even clearer picture of how the surge has progressed this week, here are the numbers from July 9-15. New cases have numbered more than 1,000 per day for seven days in a row now, and yesterday topped 1,500.
LA County COVID Cases, Deaths & Hospitalizations - July10-16, 2021
|Date||New Cases||Deaths||Current Hospitalizations|
And the increases are showing up in our local neighborhoods, too:
Quoted in an LA Times story yesterday, Dr. Muntu Davis, LA County Health Officer, said “This is an all-hands-on-deck moment.”
But Davis also said, according to the LA Daily News, that requiring nearly everyone to wear masks is the probably the least disruptive option available to fight the surge. “This is probably one of the more effective” strategies, he said, “as well as the least limiting in terms of business operations.”
Most sources have also noted that the surge is being fueled by the rapid spread of the newer Delta variant of the virus, which is more contagious that previous strains. And according to the Daily News story, Delta cases have gone from 19% to 70% of local new cases in just the last two weeks.
As we reported last week, however, there is definitely another distinguishing characteristic of the current surge – who’s most affected.
According to the LAist news website:
“Dr. Christina Ghaly, director of the county’s Health and Human Resources Department, told county supervisors Tuesday morning that it’s clear who is now getting sick.
“To date, we have not yet had a patient admitted to a [county] hospital who has been fully vaccinated with either the J&J, Pfizer, or Moderna vaccine,” she said. “Every single patient who that we’ve admitted for COVID has been not yet fully vaccinated.”
Also, LAist reported that “hospital workers are now reporting younger COVID patients in need of intensive care,” especially 30-49-year-olds.
All of which underscores the need to increase the number of people who have been vaccinated, and the County is pushing as hard as it can to get that message out and to make vaccinations as easy and appealing as possible.
First, there’s a new weekly sweepstakes, offering drawings for free concert tickets at both Staples Center and the Hollywood Bowl:
Also, home vaccinations are available to those who cannot visit other vaccination sites:
And if leaving work to get vaccinated is an issue, the County wants you to know that you are likely eligible for supplemental sick leave time to get vaccinated:
Finally, the County is also reminding people that vaccinations are necessary even if you already had COVID-19:
Anyone 12 and older living or working in L.A. County is now eligible to be vaccinated. To find a vaccination site, or to make an appointment, see VaccinateLACounty.com or call 1-833-540-0473. Vaccinations are free and open to all LA County residents and workers, regardless of immigration status.