Los Angeles-The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health (Public Health) has confirmed 56 new deaths and 11,271 new cases of COVID-19. To date, Public Health identified 634,849 positive cases of COVID-19 across all areas of L.A. County and a total of 8,931 deaths.
Since November 9, average daily deaths have increased from 12 average deaths per day to 84 average deaths per day last week.
Since the beginning of the surge in November, cases have increased by a staggering 862%. For the past three weeks, the County has nearly tripled the daily average number of cases; from 4,000 new cases a day to over 14,000 new cases a day.
Public Health again confirms the highest number of COVID-19 hospitalizations reported in a day with 5,709 people with COVID-19 currently hospitalized. Of the 5,709 people with COVID-19 currently hospitalized, 21% of these people are in the ICU. Since November 9, average daily hospitalizations of people with COVID-19 increased more than 650%.
Public Health warns that without a change in how we celebrate the winter holidays, Los Angeles County will experience a surge on top of a surge on top of a surge. Hospitals are already over capacity and the high-quality medical care we are accustomed to in LA County is beginning to be compromised as our frontline healthcare workers are beyond stretched to the limit.
L.A. County continues to experience a surge in cases among healthcare workers. This past week, 2,191 healthcare workers tested positive for COVID-19. In the last three weeks there have been over 5,500 new cases among healthcare workers. In early November there were 40 new cases among healthcare workers per day; last week there were 313 new cases of COVID-19 among healthcare workers per day.
The significant increases in cases among our healthcare system is happening at the very time we need our healthcare workers healthy and available to treat the thousands of new COVID-19 patients, and all the other urgent cases that enter our hospitals.
The Moderna COVID-19 vaccine recently received emergency use authorization by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to prevent COVID-19 severe illness and shipments began going out on Sunday. In addition to the Pfizer vaccine, this is the second COVID-19 vaccine that is allowed to be distributed throughout the country. Public Health anticipates receiving 116,600 doses of the Moderna vaccine in this first shipment later this week. These vaccines will be used to protect workers and residents at 338 skilled nursing facilities in L.A. County. Estimates indicate that 70,000 healthcare workers and residents in these facilities will be offered the Moderna vaccine. Vaccine also will go to L.A. County EMTs and paramedics on the frontlines of the pandemic. Public Health anticipates nearly 16,000 EMTs and paramedics will be receiving the Moderna vaccine in this first round. Additionally, Moderna vaccine doses will be used to inoculate an additional 300 healthcare worker teams serving as vaccinators and recorders.
Last week, L.A. County received its first shipment of the Pfizer vaccine. This shipment represented 82,873 doses that have been distributed to 83 acute care hospitals through the county. A second allotment of 48,750 Pfizer vaccine is anticipated to arrive this week and will continue to be used to vaccinate healthcare workers at acute care hospitals.
Initial efforts are aimed at vaccinating everyone in Phase 1A, Tier 1; these are our frontline healthcare workers and residents in long-term care facilities. Looking ahead, once we are done with vaccinating all groups in Tier 1, we will move to Tier 2 and Tier 3.
In Phase 1A, Tier 2, this group includes healthcare workers in immediate care facilities and home healthcare service, community health workers, public health field staff, and healthcare workers in primary care clinics, correctional facility clinics and urgent care clinics. In Phase 1A, Tier 3, this group includes healthcare workers in specialty clinics, laboratory workers, dental and other oral health clinics, and pharmacy staff who are not within in the higher-tier settings.
As we begin with the first set of vaccinations for all the Tiers within Phase 1A, we can begin to look at categories of individuals to receive vaccinations under Phase 1B and 1C. These are Phases adopted by the CDC to assist prioritization while there is a limited supply of vaccine and we’re following their guidance.
Persons within Tier 1B are considered persons 75 years and older and frontline essential workers. These include firefighters, police officers and sheriff’s deputies, teachers and school staff, manufacturing workers, corrections workers, U.S. Postal Service workers, public transit and grocery store workers. A complete list will be published online.
Persons within Tier 1C are those who are 65 years or older and individuals 16 years and older with significant underlying health conditions that could create a serious health risk. This also includes additional essential workers not included in Tier 1B. For more information about the County’s vaccination plans, please visit: www.publichealth.lacounty.gov.
Of the 56 new deaths reported today, 15 people that passed away were over the age of 80 years old, 26 people who died were between the ages of 65 and 79 years old, 10 people who died were between the ages of 50 and 64 years old, four people who died were between the ages of 30 and 49 years old, and one person who died was between the ages of 18 and 29 years old. Forty-six people who died had underlying health conditions including 11 people over the age of 80 years old, 23 people between the ages of 65 and 79 years old, eight people between the ages of 50 and 64 years old, three people between the ages of 30 and 49 years old, and one person between the ages of 18 and 29 years old.
“Our hearts go out to every person who is mourning a loved one or friend who has passed away from COVID-19. We are so sorry for your loss,” said Barbara Ferrer, PhD, MPH, MEd, Director of Public Health. “The only path forward right now that has a chance at stopping the surge is to stay home as much as possible and to enjoy the holidays with just our immediate household. This means no extended in-person family gatherings. The risks of doing so are just too dangerous. Another spike in cases from the winter holidays will be disastrous for our hospital system and, ultimately, will mean many more people simply won’t be with us in 2021. While we are so encouraged that vaccines have arrived and our frontline healthcare workers are beginning to receive vaccinations, it will take many months to immunize the entire population of L.A. County. Your actions this week and beyond will determine whether we get through the next two months without continuing to experience horrifying increases in hospitalizations and deaths. When you must go out for work, to exercise or for essential services, put on a face covering before you open the door and walk outside. Please always keep your mask on. Please avoid crowded spaces and stay at least 6 feet away from people you do not live with at all times. And keep using hand sanitizer and washing your hands.”
It is important to isolate if you tested positive for COVID-19 for 10 days and to self-quarantine for 10 days if you have come in contact with someone who tested positive for COVID-19. The County has capacity to support isolation and quarantine for those who are positive and those who are close contacts. If you are positive for COVID-19 and need help figuring out how to best stay away from others for the 10 days, please answer our call when Public Health contacts you or call us at 833-540-0473.
The Reopening Protocols, COVID-19 Surveillance Interactive Dashboard, Roadmap to Recovery, Recovery Dashboard, and additional things you can do to protect yourself, your family and your community are on the Public Health website, www.publichealth.lacounty.gov.