Last week,LA County Director of Public Health Barbara Ferrer reported that the COVID-19 numbers for LA County remain “low and stable”…though there does seem to have been a small uptick in new cases in the latter half of the week, about a week after the Memorial Day holiday weekend.
LA County Covid Cases, Deaths & Hospitalizations - May 31-June 6
Still, however, last week’s numbers were very solid, and much lower than a number of other major metro areas in the U.S., prompting Ferrer to note that Los Angeles is “one of the best places in the country to avoid getting COVID.”
Vaccination efforts are also continuing, with more than 4.3 million of the County’s approximately 10 million residents fully vaccinated.
But has also been noted in recent weeks, the rates at which people are seeking vaccines is continuing to fall, which can be seen both county-wide, and in our local neighborhoods…with most communities in the Buzz readership area gaining only .5-1% in their numbers of vaccinated individuals over the last 11 days. (Previous weeks had seen jumps of 5-10% weekly.)
Ferrer said that to bring the County’s overall numbers up, and to combat vaccine hesitancy, the focus is now on vaccine education, and efforts to bring mobile vaccination sites to the county’s least vaccinated communities.
She also noted that vaccination rates also tend to break down along ethnic lines, with whites and Asians having both the highest vaccination rates and the lowest case, hospitalization, and death rates… while Black and Latino groups have both the lowest vaccination rates so far, and the highest new case, hospitalization and death rates.
And age is a factor, too…with younger residents the least vaccinated, and older residents having much higher vaccination percentages. Within age groups, too, however, there is a clear ethnic divide between who has and hasn’t received the vaccine so far.
Ferrer reported that at our current rates of vaccination, LA County will hit its target of 80% of residents receiving at least one dose of the vaccine by August.
But she also said officials would like to reach that target sooner, if possible, and the County is working with two well known organizations, the Los Angeles Dodgers and the Los Angeles Football Club, to offer incentives for those who get a first dose of vaccine this week, and/or who bring an unvaccinated person with them to their own second-dose appointment.
Finally, Ferrer noted that Los Angeles County is still committed to complying with the state’s June 15 re-opening date, when most COVID-19 restrictions will be lifted or significantly relaxed.
Ferrer also noted, however, that the County will also follow the California Occupational Health and Saftey Administration’s new guidelines for masks in the workplace, which were announced on Thursday. Those guidelines, summarized in a story from LAist this weekend, say that:
- “Workers can remove masks if everyone in the room is fully vaccinated and doesn’t have COVID-19 symptoms. (A person becomes fully vaccinated 14 days after their final vaccine dose.) The employer must have “documented proof” of the vaccination.
- Masks would be required for all employees if anyone in the room is not fully vaccinated. At a restaurant, a patron could be unmasked but the server would be masked. (Businesses will still be able to require all customers to be masked.)
- Employees who can’t wear face coverings due to medical conditions, mental health conditions or disabilities, or during tasks that cannot be performed while wearing a face covering, would need to be tested for COVID-19 weekly during work hours at no cost to the employee.
- Until July 31, employees in indoor settings or outdoor mega events with more than 10,000 people must continue to physically distance themselves from others by at least six feet or be given the option to wear respirators, such as N95 masks that must be provided by the employer.”
Also, it’s important to note that even under the state re-opening guidelines, individual businesses will still be able to set their own mask policies for customers, and can require customers to wear masks, if they choose to do so.
Finally in her address last week, Ferrer said that the county is focusing on three main areas prior to the June 15 re-opening: testing to help prevent outbreaks before they start, supporting the Cal/OSHA mask guidelines, and developing specific “best practices” for schools, camps, health care facilities, and other high-risk congregate settings. Those best practices, she said, will be released next week.