Masks: Masks have returned to Los Angeles County and the City of Santa Monica. Kailyn Forbes

Fully vaccinated people account for about 20 percent of all new Covid cases since June but officials say vaccinated people who are testing positive are largely avoiding health consequences.

Of the roughly 4.8 million Los Angeles County residents that have received a vaccine, since January of this year, 6,520 have tested positive, 287 have been hospitalized and 30 have died. However, vaccinated individuals are about one in five of the new cases since June when the more contagious Delta variant began surging through the area.

Los Angeles County has seen a 20-fold increase in cases in a month. Of the new cases reported by Public Health, 83% are among people under the age of 50 years old with 65% of new cases among people between the ages of 18 and 49 years old.

Barbara Ferrer, Director of the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health said Thursday that if a resident is vaccinated, their chances of being hospitalized and intubated are much less than that of unvaccinated residents. She said as the pool of vaccinated individuals grows, it becomes more likely that a vaccinated person will take a test and a percentage of those tests will come back positive even if the individual has no or very mild symptoms.

About 52 percent of the county is fully vaccinated which means half of all residents are responsible for 80 percent of new cases.

“So yes, if you are fully vaccinated, you have a lot of protection, which is what the vaccines have always been their best at: protecting people from serious illness and death,” she said. “And these vaccines are even with the Delta variant and holding on really well.”

She said vaccines are not foolproof but they are the single most effective way to fight the pandemic.

“The vaccines are not perfect, but I think as I’ve shown today, they’re an excellent protection for COVID,” she said. “We choose on a daily basis to protect ourselves using imperfect methods. For example, while seatbelts don’t prevent every bad thing that can happen during a car accident, they do provide excellent protection, so much so that we all use them routinely.

Would it really make sense to not use a seatbelt just because it doesn’t prevent all injuries from car accidents? To think about COVID vaccines in the same way, rejecting a COVID vaccine because they don’t offer 100% protection really ignores the powerful benefits that we experienced.”

While Ferrer strongly advocated for vaccines, she defended the County’s reimposition of a mask mandate for inside spaces. She said the community spread made possible through unmasked activity could help spawn additional variants and that even vaccinated residents should be concerned as they could pass the disease to someone else despite feeling few or no symptoms themselves.

“The Delta variant because it’s so much more infectious than any other virus strain we’ve seen requires us to add additional layers of protection to slow transmission, as we’re working to increase our vaccination rates.” she said. “Not only is Delta variant much easier to transmit to others including to those who are fully vaccinated, but along with this increase in community transmission comes the threat of new mutations that may be even more dangerous than the Delta variant. That’s why we’re asking everyone to wear masks. Masks are an important additional layer of protection that makes it harder for there to be transmission among both unvaccinated and vaccinated individuals. Vaccines and masks work together to protect us. If you think about this pandemic like a weather event, vaccines are like our umbrella, excellent protection on most rainy days. But when the rain gets really intense, for example, during a bad thunderstorm, we might also throw on a raincoat. In the same way with transmission intensifying, we’re asking you to also add a mask. Well vaccinated people can be reassured about the protection the vaccine gives you from severe COVID disease. We cannot yet reassure you that given the proliferation of the Delta variant, the vaccine offers protection from infecting another person. This is why masking up right now is really important and what it’s about is adding an extra layer of protection to prevent the heartache that comes from transmitting virus to others.”

Anyone 12 and older living or working in L.A. County can get vaccinated against COVID-19. Vaccinations are widely available throughout L.A. County and many sites are open on weekends and have evening hours. To find a vaccination site near you, make an appointment at vaccination sites, and much more, visit: www.VaccinateLACounty.com (English) and www.VacunateLosAngeles.com (Spanish). If you don’t have internet access, can’t use a computer, or you’re over 65, you can call 1-833-540-0473 for help finding an appointment, connecting to free transportation to and from a vaccination site, or scheduling a home-visit if you are homebound. Vaccinations are always free and open to eligible residents and workers regardless of immigration status.

editor@smdp.com

Matthew Hall

Matthew Hall has a Masters Degree in International Journalism from City University in London and has been Editor-in-Chief of SMDP since 2014. Prior to working at SMDP he managed a chain of weekly papers...