20 New Deaths and 1,887 New Confirmed Cases of COVID-19 in Los Angeles County
Public Health Prepares to Administer COVID-19 Vaccine to Children Ages 5 to 11
LOS ANGELES, Calif. Oct 28 – The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health (Public Health) prepares for administering COVID-19 vaccines to children 5 to 11 years old once the FDA and CDC recommends and approves Pfizer vaccines for children in this age group.
Since the beginning of the pandemic, there have been more than 200,000 cases among children and teens in L.A. County. Over the week ending October 10, 12% of L.A. County cases were in children aged 5 to 11. Children in this age group comprise 9% of the county’s population. Since March of 2020, L.A. County has seen more than 79,000 cases among children aged 5 to 11, more than 37,000 cases in children under 5 and more than 89,000 cases in teens aged 12 to 17. The County has seen 632 hospitalizations in children under 5; 376 among children 5 to 11; and 740 among teens aged 12 to 17. The very low number of pediatric deaths seen in L.A. County – seven in total – have occurred during or shortly after case surges. Five of these deaths were in children aged 12 to 17, while one was under 5 and one was a child between the ages of 5 and 11.
In the next few days, the FDA will consider its committee’s advice and make a decision whether to issue an emergency use authorization for the Pfizer vaccine for children 5 to 11 years old. Then, on November 2 and 3, the CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices is expected to meet and vote on their recommendation, and shortly thereafter, the CDC Director will make a recommendation on how to use the vaccine in children. Once this recommendation is issued, vaccine providers nationwide will implement the authorization which could happen as early as November 3.
There will be hundreds of providers in L.A. County ready to provide vaccines to children in this age group as soon as the CDC issues its recommendation. The County is positioned to have almost 150,000 pediatric doses of the Pfizer vaccine available next week. Parents and caregivers can also check with their children’s pediatrician to see if they will be administering COVID vaccines once there is final approval from the CDC.
Tonight, Thursday, October 28, at 6:00 p.m., Public Health will host a Virtual Town Hall on COVID-19 vaccine. Join Public Health to learn more about the COVID-19 vaccine, boosters, vaccinating children 5-11, and more. The town hall will be streamed live on Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube @lapublichealth. For more information and to submit a question, visit: tinyurl.com/LACVaxTownHall
Last week, there were 500 student cases and about 2,700 student close contacts. Among staff, we saw 80 cases and 120 close contacts. These numbers represent a 40% decline in school cases and a 43% decline in staff cases from the prior week. Given there are more than 1.7 million children and staff attending or working at over 3,000 schools countywide, these are strikingly low numbers. This amounts to a test positivity of 0.2% among students and staff testing positive, with 0.2% identified as close contacts.
While Public Health anticipates that the ability to vaccinate all school-aged children will provide the best protection, the continued efforts of school communities show that masking and other preventive measures, like testing, are also powerful tools for supporting safety at schools.
Today, Public Health confirms 20 new deaths and 1,887 new cases of COVID-19. The higher number of cases today likely reflects delays in reporting of about 500 positive tests from one or more labs over the past several days.
Of the 20 new deaths reported today, three people who passed away were over the age of 80, five people who died were between the ages of 65 and 79, seven people who died were between the ages of 50 and 64, three people who died were between the ages of 30 and 49, and one person who died was between the ages of 18 and 29. One death was reported by the City of Long Beach.
To date, Public Health has identified 1,489,380 positive cases of COVID-19 across all areas of L.A. County and a total of 26,598 deaths. There are 649 people with COVID-19 currently hospitalized and 28% of these people are in the ICU. Testing results are available for nearly 9,021,000 individuals with 15% of people testing positive. Today’s test positivity rate is 1.2%.
Unvaccinated people continue to account for most cases and hospitalizations and are still 6 times more likely to get infected and 28 times more likely to be hospitalized than vaccinated people.
“We are deeply saddened by the continued loss of loved ones to the virus and send our wishes for peace and healing to the families and friends of those who have passed,” said Barbara Ferrer, PhD, MPH, MEd, Director of Public Health. “Given that there is still considerable transmission, along with the risk that changing conditions favor easier spread of COVID as more activities move indoors and more people travel and gather to celebrate holidays, it remains important for us to maintain additional layers of protection, including masking up indoors and in crowded outdoor spaces. This is also the time — before the holidays, and before cooler weather leads to a rise in viral transmission — for unvaccinated people to get their vaccines, and those eligible for boosters, to get their additional dose.”
While we need to do everything necessary to get those not yet vaccinated their first dose, it is also important that many vaccinated people at risk of severe illness from COVID get their booster dose as soon as they are eligible for this additional dose. Boosters serve as ‘reminder’ doses that refresh your immunity to COVID and are needed since studies have shown that the effectiveness of the COVID vaccines diminish a bit over time.
People eligible for boosters include adults of any age who received their first Johnson & Johnson dose at least two months ago, and people who got the second dose of their Pfizer or Moderna vaccines at least six months ago and are 65-plus years old or are over 18 and live in long-term care settings, have underlying medical conditions, or work or live in high-risk settings.
This weekend is Halloween and residents of all ages are looking forward to celebrating the holiday. Fortunately, there are lots of safe ways to have a fun time when celebrating Halloween, including outdoor costume parties, pumpkin patch visits, outdoor ghost tours, hayrides, and trick-or-treating – when done safely. These options are all safer than doing things indoors, like haunted house tours, indoor costume parties, and spooky indoor performances.
When deciding what activities to take part in, it can be helpful to think about what makes an activity safe: the more participants who are vaccinated, the less likely an activity will result in viral transmission. Additionally, being outside adds safety, and you can further reduce risk by masking up when around people outside your household and avoiding crowded situations. Handing out individually packaged treats also makes transmission less likely. Taking a common sense approach to the holiday can limit risks while maximizing fun for everyone.