LOS ANGELES (CNS) - Los Angeles County reported 248 new cases of COVID-19 and five additional deaths Sunday, though health officials say the relatively low numbers likely reflect reporting delays over the weekend.
According to state figures, there were 389 people hospitalized with the virus as of Sunday in Los Angeles County, down from 400 on Saturday. The number of those patients in intensive care increased from 87 to 90.
Sunday's figures brought the county's totals to 1,235,561 cases and 23,999 deaths since the pandemic began, according to the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health.
The county's average number of people hospitalized due to COVID-19 has fallen to its lowest point since the onset of the pandemic. The county's five-day average daily number of people hospitalized due to COVID was 389 as of Friday. Officials have been touting vaccinations as the key to keeping hospital beds empty, noting that inoculated residents are highly protected from infection, but even if they do still contract the virus, they are extremely unlikely to wind up hospitalized.
“We see the power of vaccinations in our low metrics and reduced transmission,” Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer said last week.
Ferrer said the number of shots administered in the county last week fell about 25% from the previous week. As a result, most vaccination sites, including all of the ones operated by the county, are offering shots without appointments.
The county has reduced the size of its four large-scale vaccination sites, but Ferrer said they would remain open, despite a decision by Orange County officials to close their large sites.
On Sunday, Mayor Eric Garcetti announced the City of Los Angeles will offer appointment-free COVID-19 vaccinations beginning Monday at all of its city-run sites and open two additional night clinics in a new effort to expand vaccine access.
“We stand at a critical juncture in our fight to end this pandemic, and our city will keep doing everything possible to knock down barriers to vaccine access and deliver doses directly to all Angelenos,” Garcetti said.
“Our vaccines are safe and effective, and we will continue working to get shots into the arms of our local families, protect ourselves and our loved ones, and start Los Angeles on the road to health, economic growth, and a lasting recovery.”
The city added a sixth day of service last week and started to offer appointment-free options at certain walk-up and mobile locations. This week, Los Angeles will continue to operate its fixed sites Monday through Saturday, and will add the appointment-free option at all of its drive-through locations: Crenshaw Christian, Hansen Dam and Dodger Stadium.
Pre-registration is not required, but Angelenos who wish to plan ahead can visit coronavirus.lacity.org/GetVaccinated to sign up or find the locations nearest to them.
On top of these steps, the city will now operate its mass vaccination sites at Pierce College and L.A. Southwest College from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. A third night mobile clinic will be open from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. at Green Meadows
Recreation Center in South Los Angeles to provide a late-hour option for working people. This comes on the heels of seeing 62% of first doses delivered after 2 p.m. at the city's first night clinic last week.
This week, the city will deploy 10 mobile teams Monday through Saturday to residents in Glassell Park, Arleta, Sylmar, Chesterfield Square, Green Meadows, Boyle Heights, North Hollywood, San Pedro, Wilmington and Canoga Park.
As of last Sunday, 39% of county residents had been fully vaccinated -- 67% among residents age 65 and older and 33% among those 16 to 64.
Latino and Black residents continue to have the lowest rate of being vaccinated. Ferrer showed statistics Thursday indicating that only 18% of Black men aged 16 to 29 had received at least one vaccine dose so far, and 20% of Black women in that age group. Only 30% of Black men and women aged 30 to 49 have received at least one dose.
The percentage of Black and Latino residents being vaccinated has improved greatly since February, with a 593% increase in vaccination rates among Latina/o residents aged 16 and up, and a 414% rise in the vaccination rate among Black residents 16 and over.
Despite the large increases, those populations still have the lowest overall rate of vaccination, with just 37% of the eligible Black population vaccinated, and 40% of the Latina/o population.
Ferrer stressed the importance of vaccinations, particularly as more people start intermingling with last week's loosening of health restrictions in accordance with the county's move to the least-restrictive yellow tier of the state's Blueprint for a Safer Economy.
Los Angeles is the only Southern California county to advance to the yellow tier. The rest of the region remains in the slightly more restrictive orange tier.