Serving Larchmont Village, Hancock Park, and the Greater Wilshire neighborhoods of Los Angeles since 2011.

Public Health Update: COVID-19 Cases Still Declining; More Monkeypox Vaccine Coming

Good news: COVID-19 trend lines this week show a steep drop over the last month, with hospitalizations starting to drop now, too.


In LA County’s weekly public health address this week (which, as of last week, now includes updates on both COVID-19 and monkeypox), LA County Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer shared continued good news about declining COVID-19 cases, and County Health Officer Dr. Muntu Davis provided updates on monkeypox and the current availability of monkeypox vaccines.




As shown above, the downward trend in new COVID-19 cases continued this week with what Ferrer called a “significant decline in reported cases,” and a 7% decrease in our daily case average.  The additional good news was that Ferrer also reported a 9% decrease in hospitalizations.  And she said that given the steep declines in new cases over the last few weeks, with no particularly concerning new strains of the virus on the radar at the moment, there’s a good chance hospitalizations should drop even further in the next 2-3 weeks.



The declining numbers kept LA County fully in the Medium community tier this week, as defined by the CDC, with just 8.9 hospitalizations per 100,000 residents, down from 9.9 last week.



Ferrer also reported that five of the eight early alert measures being tracked by LA County dropped this week.  And the number of new outbreaks in skilled nursing facilities, and settings involving people experiencing homelessness – two of our most vulnerable populations –  have also dropped significantly from recent highs.



Meanwhile, the BA.5 Omicron subvariant is still gaining ground among its competitors and now accounts for more than 88% of all cases locally.  As noted above, however, Ferrer reported that “there are no subvariants that are poised to circulate more widely than BA.5” at the moment, which is good news.

At the same time, however, Ferrer noted that we still have a “high” rate of virus transmission, with 252 new cases per 100,000 residents, which she said is an “indication that there’s still a lot of virus circulating.”  And because BA.5 can cause reinfections in people who have previously had COVID-19, it’s still a good idea to use “common sense protections” such as getting vaccinated and boosted, testing before and after attending large gatherings, gathering outdoors as much as possible, and wearing masks indoors.



Ferrer also provided a reminder of the current requirements for isolation, testing, and masking if you either have COVID-19 or have been exposed to someone with the virus.  In short, if you have COVID, you are still required to isolate for 10 days, or five days if you test negative after day five, and you should wear a mask around others during your isolation period.  If you’ve been exposed to COVID-19, you do not need to quarantine, but you should wear a mask around others for 10 days after the exposure, and test 3-5 days after exposure to make sure you have not contracted the virus.



Finally, Ferrer urged residents to remember that many individuals – especially those who are older, have chronic health conditions, are immunocompromised and/or unvaccinated – are still at higher risk of infection and severe illness.  So when calculating risk factors and the protections we choose to use, it’s good to consider those measures an “act of caring,” and a consideration or kindness that helps to protect the wider community and not just ourselves.





Providing the update on monkeypox this week, LA County Health Officer Muntu Davis reported that there have now been 39,434 cases of monkeypox around the world, with 13,517 in the U.S. and 971 in LA County (not counting Long Beach and Pasadena).  There have been 26 hospitalizations locally so far, and no deaths.  But this week did bring the first report of a monkeypox case in a local prison, and the first case reported in a local homeless shelter.



As reported last week, Davis said the demographics of local monkeypox infections have been consistent with other areas, with 98% in males, 84% among LGBTQ+ individuals, and a bit more diversity among ethnic groups, with 37% of cases in Latino/Hispanic individuals, 35% white, 11% Black/African American, and 4% Asian.  And about 50% of the cases so far have been reported in the more central, urban areas of the city of Los Angeles.



The bulk of Davis’ presentation, however, focused on monkeypox vaccines in LA County.  Today, he reported, the county has received 43,290 doses of vaccine (out of 625,000 promised), with 39,501 doses (91% of those received) administered to residents.  Another 28,000 doses have just arrived.



Davis said the county is now using the “alternate” regimen for the JYNNEOS vaccine, which proivdes a smaller, intradermal, dose to those 18 years and older, which helps expand the number of doses available.  People under 18 will still receive the full dose, delivered subcutaneously, as originally outlined.  Currently the county is also rolling out second scheduled doses for those who have received a first dose, as well as expanding eligibility to people under 18 who are at high risk for infection.



Because vaccine is still in limited supply, only certain individuals are currently eligible to receive it.  That group includes gay and bisexual men, and transgender persons, who have had multiple or anonymous sex partners, or who engage in commercial and/or transactional sex. (Monkeypox can infect anyone, but it has been spreading most rapidly among this demographic so far.)  This group – including both adults and youth under the age of 18 – are currently eligible to receive the vaccine…though people under 18 do need parental consent.



If you are currently eligible for the vaccine, you can contact your health care provider or register through LA County.  (Registration will be open when doses are available, and closed if there is no current supply. Right now, however, Davis said vaccines – and vaccination appointments – are available for those who meet the eligibility criteria.)



Davis said the current risks of monkeypox infection are currently very low for the majority of the population, but those who work with the public – especially those in personal care professions where skin-to-skin contact is frequent – such as giving massages or facials – can take simple, common-sense measures to protect themselves and others.  This includes hand washing and other good hygiene practices, cleaning and disinfecting materials and surfaces, wearing disposable gloves when cleaning, posting signs asking clients to delay their services if they have new or unexplained rashes, and staying home if you are sick or have symptoms.





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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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