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Thursday, August 5, 2021

LOS ANGELES—As the Delta variant of the coronavirus continues to spread, county health officials are continuing to urge vaccinations as the best defense against COVID-19 infections, which are disproportionately affecting the unvaccinated and landing them in hospitals.

According to state figures, there were 1,242 people hospitalized in the county due to COVID as of Wednesday morning, with 269 people in intensive care. County officials noted that one month ago, on July 2, there were only 280 people hospitalized due to COVID-19.

County Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer said last week that of all the people who were hospitalized in the county due to COVID-19 in June, 92% were either unvaccinated entirely or not fully vaccinated. The figure was 95% in May. For the first 10 days of July—the most recent statistic available—the rate was 91%.

Ferrer also said 99.8% of the COVID fatalities in the county during the first six month of the year occurred among the unvaccinated. The rate was 96% from April 1 to June 30, a period during which vaccines were more widely available.

On Monday, the county reported five more COVID-19 deaths and 2,361 new cases, with the Department of Public Health warning the figures were likely low due to reporting lags from the weekend.

With the data released Monday, the new infections brought the county's total from throughout the pandemic to 1,305,704. The additional five deaths raised the county's death toll of 24,690.

The county has been experiencing sharp increases in daily case numbers, hospitalizations and test-positivity rates over the past several weeks, with the increases attributed to the highly infectious Delta variant of the coronavirus.

The average daily rate of people testing positive for the virus in the county was 6.2% as of Monday, down from the 6.3% rate reported Friday. By comparison, that percentage was 1.3% on July 2.

While the pace of vaccinations has slowed significantly since earlier this year, Ferrer said the county has now seen two consecutive weeks of small increases in the number of people receiving a first dose. Between July 19 and 25, about 70,000 doses were administered in the county, up about 7,500 from the previous week.

Of the county's 10.3 million residents, 60% have received at least one dose, and 52% are fully vaccinated. Roughly 1.3 million residents under age 12 remain ineligible for the vaccine.

Among residents aged 16 and over, 72% have received at least one dose, and 63% are fully vaccinated, according to the most recent county figures. The rates are significantly higher among older residents, with 89% of county residents aged 65 and over with at least one dose, and 79% fully vaccinated.

There are 772 county sites offering vaccinations this week, including pharmacies, clinics, community sites and hospitals and 312 sites where mobile teams are offering vaccinations, which are concentrated in higher-need, harder hit areas.

"Vaccinations are widely available throughout L.A. County and are free of charge to anyone, regardless of their country of origin or immigration status," Ferrer said in a statement Monday.

"Many sites are open on weekends and have evening hours and government IDs and/or insurance are not needed. Because of the high rate of community transmission in L.A. County and across the nation, increasing vaccination rates is critically important to curtailing the Delta variant. It is never too late to get vaccinated and get protected."

Statewide cases also are increasing, largely among unvaccinated populations, health officials said. The vast majority of new cases in California are among the unvaccinated, with 600% higher case rates among the unvaccinated than for those who are vaccinated.