The first COVID-19 vaccine was administered in Los Angeles County on Monday.
The first shipment of vaccine arrived at one of nine pre-positioned sites, with the remaining eight sites receiving their shipment over the next two days. The current expected initial allocation for L.A. County is 82,875 doses, and we are hoping to receive two additional allocations in December. This does not include allocations for the Cities of Long Beach and Pasadena, which have their own independent health departments and are receiving their own allocations.
The nine prepositioned sites have been working with the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health (Public Health) and EMS to make arrangements to redistribute vaccine so that every acute care hospital that serves COVID-19 patients receives a pro-rata share of this initial allocation. Public Health has been hosting webinars, holding office hours, and distributing information in order to help prepare all the acute care hospitals for this large undertaking.
A second allocation of the vaccine that should arrive later this month will allow for a distribution of vaccines to all health care personnel and residents at our skilled nursing facilities, along with continued distribution to frontline healthcare and EMS personnel.
Monday, Public Health has confirmed 48 new deaths and 7,344 new cases of COVID-19. The number of new cases reported today reflect a reporting lag from one large lab; this lab started reporting the backlog of cases today.
To date, Public Health identified 532,730 positive cases of COVID-19 across all areas of L.A. County and a total of 8,345 deaths. Since the beginning of the surge on November 1, cases have increased 625% with younger people continuing to drive the increase in community transmission in the county. More than 70% of cases are from people under the age of 50 years old.
There are 4,203 people with COVID-19 currently hospitalized and 21% of these people are in the ICU. Today’s number reflects an increase of more than 1,200 patients in just a week, when on December 7, the daily number of people hospitalized with COVID-19 was 2,988. Since December 1, the County has surpassed previous all-time highs every day.
While the highest number of cases are among young adults, the steepest increase in hospitalizations is experienced by older residents. Residents over 80 years old have consistently experienced the highest rates of hospitalization among all age groups in L.A. County followed by residents 65 to 79 years old, and residents 50 to 64 years old.
Our reality is frightening at the moment with over 4,200 patients hospitalized with COVID-19 and almost half of our ICU beds occupied by COVID-19 patients. By next weekend, there are likely to be over 5,000 patients hospitalized and more than 50% of ICU beds occupied by COVID-19 patients.
Equally important as ICU bed capacity is ICU staffing capacity. Every bed needs to be staffed by highly trained and skilled healthcare workers. The recent surge in cases has resulted in huge increases in cases among our healthcare workers. In the last two weeks there have been over 3,400 new cases among healthcare workers. In early November there were 40 new cases among healthcare workers per day; last week there were nearly 250 cases among healthcare workers per day.
Of the 48 new deaths reported today, 15 people that passed away were over the age of 80 years old, 17 people who died were between the ages of 65 and 79 years old, 12 people who died were between the ages of 50 and 64 years old, three people who died were between the ages of 30 and 49 years old, and one person who died was between the ages of 18 and 29 years old. Forty people who died had underlying health conditions including 13 people over the age of 80 years old, 13 people between the ages of 65 and 79 years old, 11 people between the ages of 50 and 64 years old, two people between the ages of 30 and 49 years old, and one person between the ages of 18 and 29 years old.
“Our hearts go out to every person who is mourning a loved one or friend who has passed away from COVID-19. We are so sorry for your loss,” said Barbara Ferrer, PhD, MPH, MEd, Director of Public Health. “I want to thank the many people who made today possible starting with the scientists and researchers who have shown incredible diligence and ingenuity under the most pressing circumstances, the volunteers who participated in the clinical trials, the production teams who found ways to quickly manufacture this life-saving vaccine, and the transportation teams who have managed the crucial work of getting the vaccine to facilities across the country so that vaccinations can begin immediately. And to all the public health practitioners at federal, state, and local health departments, thank you for the 24/7 work to ensure the safe and equitable distribution of this vaccine across every community. Because it is likely to take a few months to have enough vaccine available to immunize the millions of individuals who live and work in L.A. County, in the meantime, we all must continue to remain extremely diligent in reducing transmission of the virus. We continue to see extremely high numbers of new cases, hospitalizations and deaths from COVID-19 – the surge we are experiencing is alarming. If you are not playing by the rules, to be blunt, you are part of the problem, and at this point, you are contributing to these distressing increases in cases, hospitalizations, and deaths.”
The best thing everyone can do right now is stay home as much as possible and only go out for work, exercise or for essential services. When you must leave your home, always wear a face covering and stay at least 6 feet away from people you do not live with at all times. Individuals with underlying health conditions and those that are older should remain in their home and not be around others unless seeking routine or essential health and dental care. If you are having difficulty breathing, go to an emergency room or call 911.
The Reopening Protocols, COVID-19 Surveillance Interactive Dashboard, Roadmap to Recovery, Recovery Dashboard, and additional things you can do to protect yourself, your family and your community are on the Public Health website, www.publichealth.lacounty.gov.