Photo by Matthew Hall

Current vaccination rates will not allow Los Angeles County to lift masking restrictions by the end of the year according to data released by the public health department last week. 

About 44,000 people are becoming fully vaccinated per week in Los Angeles County but that number has to increase to about 70,000 per week to hit the County goal of vaccinating 80 percent of its population by the end of the year.

About 62 percent of all Californians are fully vaccinated compared to about 72 percent of County residents (80 percent have received at least one dose). 

Los Angeles County Department of Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer said increasing the vaccination rate is doable if residents act with a sense of urgency right now because there is ample supply and she said it’s important to pre-plan in advance of Thanksgiving before cold weather creates a potential surge in cases. 

“While we hope the preventive measures we’re taking blunt the rise of cases in LA County,” she said. “We do acknowledge the risks that come to cooler weather and indoor gatherings and perhaps some waning of vaccine effectiveness. Getting vaccinated, getting your boosters and masking up indoors and in crowded outdoor spaces remains critical as we confront the real possibility of a winner search. Certainly around the country and across parts of the world, the colder weather has already brought significant increases in cases and unfortunately in hospitalizations. It would be foolish to not heed the warning inherent in these increases. Our ample supply of vaccinations allows us to offer the initial series to everyone five and older with boosters for those with waning protection, putting us in a better position to prevent the tragic heartbreak we experienced last winter.”

On Nov. 11 last year, the county reported 22 deaths, 7,216 total deaths, 2,152 new cases, 327,964 total cases, 3,302,004 residents tested with a positivity rate of 5.6 percent, 7-day daily average case rate was 19.7 and 903 people were in the hospital. 

On Nov. 11 this year, there were 25 reported deaths, 26,838 total deaths, 1,344 new cases reported, 1,509,073 total cases, 9,222,168 people tested for a daily positivity rate of 0.98 percent, the 7-day daily average case rate is 7.7 and 633 people are currently hospitalized. 

Ferrer said expanded eligibility for vaccines and boosters are a boon to efforts. 

“Many children have told us how much they can’t wait to be able to see their vaccinated friends indoors and to hug grandparents this holiday season,” she said. “And so many parents have told us how relieved they are that this child is protected not only from the health effects of the virus, but from the learning disruptions and mental health effects that often follow up in the wake of school outbreaks, quarantine and isolation.”

She said anyone who can receive a vaccine booster based on the timing of their original shots should consider doing so. 

“Here in California and in our county boosters are available for all adults six months out from their second dose of Pfizer or Moderna and two months out from receiving J&J,” she said. “Getting boosted before the holidays is important. Particularly if you’re gathering with others or you’re traveling. You can visit our vaccination planning site at vaccinatelacounty.com to find a place to get vaccinated near you. It also makes common sense to get tested before gathering with people who are at high risk for bad outcomes of a COVID infection including elderly folks, immunocompromised people, or people who have not yet been vaccinated.”

editor@smdp.com