Transmission Remains High in L.A. County Even with 50% Decrease from August Peak; Delta Variant Accounts for All Samples Sequenced
50 New Deaths and 2,024 New Confirmed Cases of COVID-19 in Los Angeles County
LOS ANGELES, Calif. Sept 10 – Tomorrow, Saturday, September 11 and Sunday, September 12, Public Health will make improvements to the data processing systems which will result in no new data being reported on those days. Neither the collection of this data nor outbreak investigations will be affected by this pause in reporting; however, no press releases will be issued during this system’s upgrade.
Los Angeles County’s 7-day cumulative case rate decreased 35% from last week to 104 new cases per 100,000 residents. This is the third week in a row of decreases in the County’s case rate. Overall, the County has seen a 50% decrease from the peak of 204 cases per 100,000 on August 19.
These recent declines may reflect the masking requirements implemented early in the surge and the small increases in the County’s vaccination coverage. Other parts of the country that do not have masking requirements and don’t have as much vaccination coverage have not seen these significant declines in cases.
Today, the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health (Public Health) confirms 50 new deaths and 2,024 new cases of COVID-19. Of the 50 new deaths reported today, 12 people who passed away were over the age of 80, 13 people who died were between the ages of 65 and 79, 14 people who died were between the ages of 50 and 64, five people who died were between the ages of 30 and 49, and two people who died were between the ages of 18 and 29. Two deaths were reported by the City of Long Beach and two deaths were reported by the City of Pasadena. To date, Public Health identified 1,427,817 positive cases of COVID-19 across all areas of L.A. County and a total of 25,611 deaths.
The County has seen deaths rise over the course of August, the expected consequence of the July surge in cases. Death rates continue to be nearly flat in all vaccinated groups.
There are 1,368 people with COVID-19 currently hospitalized, a decrease of 273 people over the past week.
Testing results are available for nearly 8,313,000 individuals with 16% of people testing positive. Today’s test positivity rate is 2.5%.
The Delta variant now accounts for 100% of the COVID-19 strains seen among samples sequenced in the Los Angeles County area. This variant is more infectious and more efficiently transmitted between people compared with earlier COVID-19 strains. While emerging data affirms that fully vaccinated people are well protected from severe infections with Delta variants, it now is clear that fully vaccinated people can become infected, and if infected with Delta, can infect others.
As a result of reanalyzing many samples with an updated version of the genetic library used to identify variants, a lab that performs much of the variant sequencing reclassified many older specimens as Mu or Lambda variants, resulting in an increase in the total number of these variants reported linked to L.A. County residents. To date, 232 cases linked to Mu variants and 28 cases linked to Lambda variants have been identified. Most of those specimens were collected earlier in the summer.
“To everyone who has lost friends and family during this difficult time, we are wishing you peace and comfort, and our prayers remain with you,” said Barbara Ferrer, PhD, MPH, MEd, Director of Public Health. “These continued losses are unbearable, especially because so many are preventable by widely available and extremely safe COVID-19 vaccines. While it is encouraging to see a significant decrease in cases, we have a long way to go to get back to low transmission rates. In order to continue making progress, we need to close gaps in vaccination coverage. Wherever we have large numbers of unvaccinated individuals, there is great risk with Delta of widespread transmission that includes people who are fully vaccinated.”
As of September 5, 91% of L.A. County residents 65 and over have received at least one dose of the vaccine, 76% of residents 16 and over and 75% of residents 12 and over. Sixty-six percent of residents 12 and over have been fully vaccinated. Sixty-four percent of L.A. County teens between the ages of 12 and 17 received at least one dose and 54% are fully vaccinated. Countywide, more than 54,000 additional doses have been administered by L.A. County providers as a third dose for people who are immunocompromised. Out of the nearly 10.3 million L.A. County residents, including those who are not yet eligible for the vaccine, 65% have received at least one dose, and 57% are fully vaccinated.
Among the more than 5.3 million fully vaccinated people in L.A. County, Public Health identified 43,598 people fully vaccinated who tested positive for COVID-19 as of September 7; this remains less than 1% of all those vaccinated have become infected with COVID-19. Of those who tested positive, 1,243 were hospitalized, up from 1,049 the week prior. This translates to 0.023% of all fully vaccinated people were hospitalized. Deaths in this group over this interval increased, from 118 to 165, to 0.0031%. When we have a vaccine that provides excellent protection from COVID-related hospitalizations and deaths but somewhat less protection from infection and transmission, we will see rising infections among vaccinated people, especially when community transmission is high. In April of this year, the case rate ratio indicated unvaccinated people were 6.5 times more likely than vaccinated people to become infected. As the months progressed, the rate ratio slowly declined as more vaccinated people tested positive for COVID-19. Nonetheless, unvaccinated people remain 4 times more likely to get COVID-19 than those who are fully vaccinated. Also, in April of this year, the ratio for hospitalizations indicated vaccinated people were more than 5 times less likely than unvaccinated people to be hospitalized for COVID-19. Since April, the protective effect of vaccination on hospitalization has nearly doubled, with unvaccinated people nearly 12 times less likely to be hospitalized than vaccinated people in August of this year. Deaths among unvaccinated people were exceedingly rare. Even with the small increase in deaths among those fully vaccinated during the late summer, in July and August, unvaccinated individuals were 10 times more likely to die from COVID-19 than those vaccinated. These findings reassure us that the vaccine is doing its very important work of dramatically reducing illness and suffering from COVID-19 among the people who are vaccinated.
Anyone 12 and older living or working in L.A. County can get vaccinated against COVID-19. Many vaccination sites across the county, including all the County-run sites, are also offering third doses of vaccine to eligible immunocompromised people. Vaccinations are always free and open to eligible residents and workers regardless of immigration status.