With New COVID-19 Strain Confirmed in Los Angeles County, Residents Advised to Be Aware of Symptoms, Take Precautions

Public Health's Homebound Vaccine Program Provides Equitable Access to Vaccines

AMTV/LOS ANGELES, May 4 – As many residents look forward to graduations, vacations and other summertime activities, the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health (Public Health) is asking everyone to be up to date with their COVID-19 vaccinations. For everyone 6 years and older, being up to date means they have had one dose of the bivalent vaccine. For those who are over 65 years old and/or immunocompromised, a second dose is available to provide even greater protection.

Bivalent vaccines are free and readily available to residents throughout Los Angeles County, including people who have difficulties leaving their home to get to a vaccination site.

Public Health helps thousands of residents get and stay up to date on their COVID-19 vaccinations and boosters with its Homebound Vaccination Program. Through this free service, Public Health has vaccinated 8,786 residents and administered 14,500 doses since March 2021. Nearly 60% of the clients vaccinated by the homebound program lived in high-risk ZIP codes for poor COVID-19 outcomes. More than 80% of the people who have used this service are ages 60 and older.

The Homebound Vaccination Program is free and easy to use. Residents are asked to call 1-833-540-0473 between 8 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. every day of the week to request an appointment or go online to ph.lacounty.gov/vaxathome or ph.lacounty.gov/vacunacionencasa (en español). Public Health partners with community-based mobile health care providers, who will call to schedule an appointment, typically within two weeks, and show up at the resident’s home to vaccinate them, their caregivers and any household/family members upon request.

The bivalent vaccine has been shown to provide ample protection against hospitalization and severe illness as it targets more recent COVID-19 Omicron strains. When comparing individuals who are unvaccinated to individuals who received the bivalent vaccine, for the 90-day period ending April 10, people who were unvaccinated were nearly five times more likely to be hospitalized and nearly six times more likely to die from COVID-19. Even for people who were previously vaccinated, the bivalent vaccine still provides additional protection. During the same period, people with a dose of the bivalent vaccine were one-and-a-half times less likely to be hospitalized from a COVID-19 infection and nearly two times less likely to die than those vaccinated without a bivalent dose.

People who are ages 65 and older or immunocompromised are eligible for second bivalent boosters. Older adults can now receive a second bivalent booster four months after their first bivalent dose; and people who are moderately or severely immunocompromised can receive a second booster two months after their first. As of April 30, more than 372,000 adults 65 and older in Los Angeles County are now eligible for a second bivalent booster. Everyone ages 6 years and older, including those who are unvaccinated, should get one bivalent vaccine to be considered up to date. Some children ages 6 months to 5 years may also need one bivalent vaccine, depending on the number of doses they’ve previously received and their age.

COVID-19 numbers remain stable and low in Los Angeles County; however, in past years, Los Angeles County has seen a rise in COVID-19 transmission in late spring and summer months as the school year ends and summer festivities start. Public Health officials remain optimistic a summer uptick in cases can be minimized so long as residents take sensible precautions.

Testing can provide an important layer of protection by detecting asymptomatic infection or verifying that the symptoms are attributed to a COVID infection. This is especially important with the new XBB.1.16 strain, which may be associated with COVID-19 symptoms that could be easily confused with allergies.

Free COVID-19 at-home tests can be picked up at libraries and community organizations across Los Angeles County and at Public Health vaccination sites or ordered through the federal government. At this time, most insurance plans are still either providing free tests or reimbursing for the cost of up to eight purchases tests each month. More information on testing can be found at ph.lacounty.gov/COVIDtests.

XBB.1.5 remains the dominant COVID strain in Los Angeles County accounting for 73% of sequenced specimens for the week ending April 8. The second most dominant strain was XBB.1.9.1, accounting for 6.5% of sequenced specimens. Public Health continues to monitor new strains, including XBB.1.16. Data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that XBB.1.16 makes up 10.3% of cases in California and surrounding states. In LA County, XBB.1.16 accounted for 2.4% of recently sequenced specimens.

The weekly reported case count for COVID-19 remained relatively stable at 2,533 compared to 2,659 last week. The 7-day average number of COVID hospitalizations is 266 this week, similar to the 275 reported last week. Reported weekly deaths also remained stable at 51 deaths this week; this is similar to the 54 deaths reported last week.

Among reported deaths this week is one pediatric death. This marks a solemn milestone, the 25th pediatric death in Los Angeles County from COVID-19.

“I offer my deepest condolences to families who have lost a loved one to COVID. My thoughts are with you as you grieve and I wish you peace,” said Dr. Barbara Ferrer, Ph.D., M.P.H., M.Ed., Director of the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health. “Our data metrics are reassuring and allowing many of us to engage with less risk in the activities we love. In order for us to be able to understand the level of risk, it is important to continue monitoring patterns of transmission and severe illness, along with understanding when and how the virus is mutating. This makes it easier for each of us to increase or decrease the common-sense precautions we take to protect ourselves and others in our families, communities and at work. For those at higher risk for severe illness, common-sense precautions may always need to be taken and this includes being up to date with the bivalent booster to minimize, even during times of lower transmission, the risk of being hospitalized or dying. Each of us can help protect those at higher risk by staying away from others when sick, testing before gathering indoors with those at high risk, practicing good hand hygiene, and helping those at higher risk access needed resources. Free vaccines, tests and therapeutics remain available throughout the county.”

Los Angeles County remains in the CDC’s Low COVID-19 Community Level for the 16th consecutive week. This includes a weekly reported case rate of 25 new cases per 100,000 people. The 7-day total for new COVID-19 hospital admissions per 100,000 people is currently 3.1. And the 7-day average of the proportion of staffed inpatient beds occupied by COVID-19 patients is now 1.5%.

As of Tuesday, May 2, there have been a total of 36,247 deaths in Los Angeles County.

Public Health is now reporting COVID data weekly. The following table shows the weekly reported case counts, average number of daily hospitalizations, and weekly reported death counts in Los Angeles County over the past four weeks.

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