Statistics released by the LA County Department of Public Health suggest the County is turning the corner in the current COVID-19 surge with the seven day case average down 30 percent from last week.

On Friday, LACDPH reported that testing positivity rates had dropped to 12.7 compared to 20.8 percent on Jan. 1. This is still much higher than the 3.8 positivity rate reported on Nov. 1 prior to the start of the surge.

“Despite these promising trends I want to emphasize that the numbers of cases, hospitalizations, and deaths remain far too high,” said LACDPH Chief Science Officer Paul Simon. “So while there is reason to be hopeful, we all must remain vigilant and continue to be disciplined.”

The County reported 9299 new cases and 256 additional deaths on Friday, bringing total case and death counts to 1,054,802 and 14,894 respectively.

Vaccination efforts ramped up significantly this week with eligible groups being expanded to include all adults 65 and over and five “mega pod” vaccination sites opening in the County.

More than 441,000 vaccines doses have been administered so far, including more than 352,000 first doses and more than 88,000 second doses. This currently reflects a 52 percent delivery rate of alloted doses, which has drawn some criticism of the County’s efficiency, while officials say the true percentage is likely higher.

“Regarding the unused vaccine, what you see in the statistics is a very large number of vaccines that have been allotted, but what appears to be a surprisingly low number of doses that have been administered,” said Simon. “As I looked at our data today, using the worst case scenario, it looks like 52 percent, but if you factor in the length of the delay in reporting it’s likely higher. It could be 60 or 65 percent.”

Simon confirmed that some unused doses are being delivered to people without appointments at the end of the day, but said this is only occurring in very small quantities and is being prioritized for individuals in eligible groups.

At this time the limited supply of vaccines remains the biggest constraint to the County’s rollout.

Los Angeles is currently receiving approximately 150,000 doses a week, representing an ability to inoculate 1 in 4 eligible people. If this pace were to continue it would take over a year to vaccinate all adults in LA County, however officials say they are optimistic about the supply expanding.

“We have a new federal administration that has pledged to make this happen. We are also hopeful that several other vaccine manufacturers will receive federal authorization for emergency use of their vaccines in the coming months and that should help to increase supplies to California, and ultimately to Los Angeles County,” said Simon.

If weekly deliveries reach 500,000 doses, officials estimate the County would be able to vaccinate 75 percent of the adult population by mid summer.

As supplies increase more vaccination will begin happening at a local level in pharmacies, community clinics, and by primary healthcare providers. Officials recommend consulting http://www.vaccinatelacounty.com/ for the latest information and guidance on receiving a vaccine.

Clara@smdp.com