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COVID-19 Update: Still Just Barely in “High” Community Tier; More Traditional Novavax Vaccine Now Available


The good news, according to LA County Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer, in her weekly address yesterday, is that COVID-19 cases are continuing to fall this week, and hospitalizations have levelled off.  In fact, she said, this week’s trend lines show the biggest drop in cases since the end of last winter’s surge, signaling that our current surge may be on the way out.   ER visits related to COVID-19, wastewater samples, new cases in skilled nursing facilities and homeless locations, and new clusters in workplaces also dropped or at least held steady this week, bolstering confidence that we are now past the peak of our summer surge.



The more “disappointing” news, though, according to Ferrer, is that although county health officials predicted last week that we would likely move down from the CDC’s High community level to Medium this week, and we did hit the Medium target for a few days…yesterday’s numbers lifted us just barely back into the High community level, with 10.1 COVID-19 hospitalizations per 100,000 residents.  (That number needs to remain under 10 to keep us at Medium.)  Our case rate, however, fell from 426 new cases per 100,000 residents to 376, so Ferrer said she’s still hopeful we can move back into the Medium level again this week, and this time stay there for a while.



More signs that we’re moving in the right direction were declines this week in five of the eight early alert signals being tracked by the County. The only metric that increased was the percentage of specimens identified as a new variant of concern, which is now 90%.  This was to be expected, however, said Ferrer, due to the increasing dominance of the highly transmissible Omicron BA.5 subvariant.



Currently, BA.5, which has been growing quickly each week, accounts for 78.2% of all cases in Los Angeles, with the also highly-transmissible BA.4 subvariant accounting for another 10.5%.  New to the variant chart this week, Ferrer pointed out, is the BA.4.6 subvariant (the bright yellow line on the chart below), which so far accounts for just 1% of all local cases (46 in all), but which may be as transmissible – or more so – than BA.5.  So definitely worth keeping an eye on.



Although the most recent sub-variants have been notably more transmissible than previous variants and subvariants, and have also been more likely to cause infections and re-infections even when people are fully vaccinated, Ferrer reported that vaccines do still have big benefits for those who get them.  Currently, people who are vaccinated are 1.9 times less likely to contract COVID-19 than their unvaccinated counterparts (a smaller ratio than in the past, but still significant), 4.3 times less likely to be hospitalized, and 5.5 times less likely to die from COVID-19 than those who are unvaccinated. (And there are still about 2 million unvaccinated people in LA County.)



The big vaccine news this week, though, is the new availability of the Novavax vaccine.  Unlike the newer MRNA technology used in the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, which some people have said they don’t trust because it hasn’t been used as long as the methods used to create more traditional vaccines, the Novavax vaccine uses the same technique – an inactive spike protein combined with an “adjuvant” to strengthen the body’s immune response – as the more familiar vaccines for Hepatitis B, whooping cough, and other major diseases.

Ferrer reported that LA County has now received 12,000 doses of the Novavax vaccine, and you can find providers or County vaccination sites at



Also, with schools starting up again the next couple of weeks, Ferrer provided a handy chart that shows the different vaccines available for children in various age groups from 6 months to 17 years, and recommended vaccine schedules for each vaccine/age group.



She also provided an updated chart for adults, which now includes the Novavax vaccine.  Note that unlike the older Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, Ferrer said no boosters are currently recommended for the Novavax vaccine.  Also, she said, the Novavax vaccine should NOT be used as a booster shot for people who have previously received the Pfizer, Moderna, or Johnson & Johnson vaccines.



In addition, since there have been many questions about the development of a booster specifically targeted at the Omicron BA.4 and BA.5 subvariants (which the FDA requested from manufacturers back in June), Ferrer reported that these shots – which will be used for Pfizer and Moderna boosters only, not initial vaccine doses – should be available this fall.



Finally this week, Ferrer also reminded residents that LA County provides free in-home COVID-19 vaccinations for those who are home-bound, who are often most at risk for infection and serious illness.  To request an in-home vaccination, call (833) 540-4073, or visit



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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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  1. Thank you for these updates on COVID-19 in our community. In the beginning, I always tuned in to the updates, but after a while I let it drop off my radar, and now I forget to check in. And when you go Googling for information, you get mixed results, or just the county website, which has too much to weed through to get a clear update. So, thank you for taking it in and boiling it down for us.


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