As COVID-19 infection rates plummet and hospital admissions decline, some Los Angeles County residents may wonder if they will soon be able to remove face masks indoors and elsewhere, but the director of public health said Thursday. On October 21, that transmission of this virus remains significant, and loosening restrictions too early could trigger another dangerous outbreak in winter.
County Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer said the latest data show the county has seen an average 18% drop in new COVID cases over the past week and a 14% drop in hospital admissions over the past week. Eventually, the average daily mortality fell below 10, reaching about eight deaths a day.
In the early days of the pandemic, between 15% and 30% of people infected with COVID-19 were hospitalized, but now the figure is around 5-6%, reflecting the impact of vaccines, improved outpatient care and more widespread testing. Ferrer said. Most COVID infections are “relatively mild to moderate, especially for people who are fully vaccinated,” she said.
“As these numbers are on a downward trend, I know there are people who are expressing concerns about continued necessary camouflage or are recommending additional levels of prevention in public places and workplaces,” Ferrer said during an online briefing. “… There are several reasons why we continue to comply with safety requirements in an environment that we consider to be high risks.
“Transmission of the virus is still significant around the county and across most of the country, which means the virus spreads fairly easily,” she said. “The spread occurs mainly among unvaccinated people, but also, as we have been reporting for several months now, to a lesser extent among vaccinated people, especially in crowded places and in poorly ventilated areas.
“The second reason is that we must do everything possible to prevent a destructive winter surge. We have observed a pattern of increasing COVID rates with cooler weather and increased indoor activity. Layered protection is a smart approach and we focused on layered protection with security measures that do not actually create major disruptions to normal operations. After vaccination, camouflage offers us the next best tool to reduce the spread. ”
The district still requires the wearing of masks in public areas, unless people are actively eating or drinking. Masks are also a must for large outdoor events such as Dodger games or soccer matches.
Ferrer said the restrictions won’t last forever, and if transmission continues to decline, the rules could be relaxed.
“We have always pointed out that these are not eternal restrictions,” she said.
But she said that “vaccinating more people is the fastest way to reduce transmission.”
According to figures released Thursday, 79% of county residents aged 12 and over have received at least one dose of the vaccine, and 71% are fully vaccinated.
Ferrer said health officials expect Pfizer’s vaccines to likely be approved for children aged 5 to 11 by early November, and Los Angeles County is home to about 900,000 children in that age range. She said the county will be ready to rapidly administer these doses, and around 96,000 of the smaller, pediatric doses are expected to be in stock shortly after they are approved, with thousands more to arrive in subsequent shipments.
The county reported 27 more deaths from COVID-19 on Thursday, bringing the total death toll from the pandemic to 26,499. Mortality is considered a lagging indicator of a pandemic, meaning that deaths recorded on any given day did not occur in the last 24 hours, but are simply recorded and may have actually happened weeks or even months ago.
Another 1,167 cases of COVID infection were reported on Thursday, bringing the county’s pandemic to 1,481,814. The average daily proportion of people who test positive for the virus was low at 0.88%.
Meanwhile, the number of COVID-positive patients in county hospitals fell below 600, with the state reaching 598, down from 613 on Wednesday. Of the hospitalized patients, 184 were in the intensive care unit, up from 177 the day before.