LA County Reports 1,113 New Cases of COVID-19 as Surge Continues

LOS ANGELES (CNS) - Los Angeles County is dealing with an alarming new surge in coronavirus cases -- fueled, officials say, by the more contagious “Delta” variant -- with more than 1,000 new infections reported for three consecutive days.

Officials reported 1,113 new cases of COVID-19 and four additional deaths Sunday -- and making matters even worse, they said the number of cases and deaths likely reflected reporting delays over the weekend.

The number of people hospitalized in Los Angeles County due to the virus dropped from 373 to 372, according to state figures. There were 82 people in intensive care as of Sunday, up from 79 the previous day.

Sunday's daily test positivity rate was 2.5%, up from 2.4% the day before. As of Friday, the rolling seven-day average rate of people testing positive for the virus was 2.4%, down slightly from 2.5% reported Thursday but above the 1.5% rate from a week ago and the 0.3% from mid-June.

Sunday's figures brought the county's totals to 1,257,628 cases and 24,542 fatalities since the pandemic began, and reinforced the recent spike that has worried health officials.

County Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer said last week the numbers all point to continuing spread of the highly infectious “Delta” variant of COVID-19, which was first detected in India and is now the dominant factor in cases domestically. The “Delta” variant was detected in more than half of the case samples sequenced in the county during the last week of June.

While COVID vaccinations have been shown to provide strong protection against the variant, Ferrer said it is a major threat to the county's roughly 4 million unvaccinated residents, including the 1.3 million children still ineligible to get the vaccine.

She said the rising numbers “for sure” reflect increased circulation of the “Delta” variant, and with millions of people still not vaccinated, “the numbers are staggering in terms of people who are at risk of being able to get infected.”

On Saturday, the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health also reported rising transmission of the virus among the county's younger, unvaccinated county residents. Of the 1,094 new cases of COVID-19 reported by the county's health department that day, 83% were among people under age 50, with the highest number of new cases among residents between the ages of 18 and 49 years old, with 70% of new cases.

“As cases increase, the urgency to get more people vaccinated is rising. Nearly 100% of new cases are occurring among those not fully vaccinated,” Ferrer said.

“All of our COVID-19 vaccines are very effective at protecting you from severe disease from COVID-19 and variants of concern like the Delta variant. We remain focused on equitably bringing vaccines and high-quality health information to all of our L.A. County communities with a particular focus on those communities that have been hard hit by the pandemic.”

The Delta variant is considered responsible for mass infections in India and outbreaks in the United Kingdom and beyond. Federal officials have said the variant is also believed to be responsible for a majority of new infections being reported in the United States -- the vast majority of them among unvaccinated residents.

Combining the large number of unvaccinated residents with the lifting of COVID health restrictions on gatherings and indoor capacity, Ferrer said there are far more opportunities for those residents to become infected.

She said people who are unvaccinated should be adhering to infection-control measures, such as mask-wearing indoors and proper hygiene. But she said getting vaccinated is clearly the most effective way to prevent infection.

Among county residents age 16 and older, 69% have received at least one dose of vaccine, and 60% are fully vaccinated. The rate among Black residents, however, is only 45% with at least one dose, compared to 54% for Latino residents, 65% for white residents and 76% for Asians. Vaccination rates continue to be especially low among younger Black residents, with only 28% of those aged 18-29 vaccinated.

In hopes of encouraging more people to get vaccinated, the county is continuing to offer incentives. From Friday to next Thursday, anyone who gets vaccinated at sites operated by the county, the city of Los Angeles or St. John's Well Child and Family Center will be entered for a chance to win one of seven concert ticket prizes, including box seats at the Hollywood Bowl and tickets to Staples Center concerts including Celine Dion, Grupo Firma, Luke Bryan, Kane Brown and Dan+Shay.

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