Although upwards of 70% of adults in LA County have now received at least one vaccine shot, and a generalized re-opening is taking place. COVID-19 remains a threat to public health, and to economic well-being, with thousands facing eviction as restrictions and moratoria are lifted and rent subsidies expire. The spread of the more highly contagious Delta variant, whose symptoms are also particularly deceptive and less likely to show the tell-tale loss of sense of smell and taste, is growing nationally, particularly among unvaccinated individuals, who are also less likely to wear masks, and in areas with high concentrations of such people.
Locally, only about 50% of so-called first responders — law enforcement and firefighters — have been vaccinated, despite their job requirement of constant public contact and especially with at-risk populations. Numerous LA County sheriff’s deputies and LA County fire department staff have contracted COVID, with some deaths and many still in quarantine. LAPD and LAFD officers and members have much lower vaccination rates than the general population, reflecting the reactionary politics of many of the cops in particular, and the history of racism in fire department staffing. More information on LA County is available here: https://covid19.lacounty.gov/wp-content/uploads/6.25.21_COVID-19_Update_FINAL.pdf
Even though the incidence rate has lowered substantially, and per capita deaths are now lower in L.A. County that in the Bay Area, continued vigilance is needed. The government is now starting to subsidize pharmaceutical research into expensive proprietary drugs for treating COVID cases, even though there has been demonstrated success with dietary supplementation with zinc and Vitamin D and the use of inexpensive ivermectin.
Internationally, the Cuban and Iranian vaccines have recently been shown to have great preventative efficacy, yet the US continues to impose sanctions against both countries, and to prevent access to their medications in the US. Because of the Delta variant, the test positive rate has begun climbing again in the US since about June 10. India, under a right wing populist Hindu nationalist (and sexist) Modi regime has been hit especially hard, and Brazil is catching up to the US in total deaths, with more than 2000 a day.
According to the LA County Public Health department, from December 7, 2020, when vaccinations first became available, to June 7, 2021, 99.6% of the County’s nearly 437,000 COVID-19 cases were individuals who were unvaccinated. There were nearly 12,900 COVID-19 hospitalizations over this time period, 98.7% among people who were unvaccinated. Among the 12,234 COVID-19 deaths across L.A. County during this period, 99.8% were among unvaccinated people. They confirmed 10 new deaths and 314 new cases of COVID-19 as we went to press. To date, Public Health identified 1,248,415 cases of COVID-19 in L.A. County and 24,465 deaths. There are 234 people with COVID-19 currently hospitalized and 27% of these people are in the ICU. After a period of persistent declines, L.A. County is starting to see increases in cases, hospitalizations, and daily test positivity. This is a signal that the virus is still here and that even now everyone needs to be careful to mask and maintain a distance from people outside your households, if not yet vaccinated. Public health is best supported by continuing to take sensible safety precautions that prevent increases in community transmission.