As LA County loses another 288 lives, push is on to amp up vaccine rollout – Daily News

on Jan13
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Los Angeles County residents 65 and older and people with severe health conditions could soon be able to get a coronavirus vaccine, state Health and Human Services Secretary Dr. Mark Ghaly said Tuesday, Jan. 12, in response to a push from federal officials to pump up the volume and speed of inoculations.

The news arrived as the county reported another 288 lives lost to coronavirus. As overtaxed local medical teams scrambled to keep pace with record COVID-19 caseloads and dwindling intensive-care units, hospitalizations remained relatively stable, hovering over 7,900, with 1,725 people in intensive-care units.

The county posted 11,994 new cases of COVID-19, for a total of 944,319 positive cases and 12,674 deaths since the pandemic began. The hospitalizations represent an 884% increase since early November, county Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer said this week, while deaths have increased by 1,125% and confirmed infections have grown by 898%.  Over the last seven days, 1,606 people died, an average of nearly 230 deaths per day.

In response to the worsening outbreak, an amped-up vaccination strategy could be implemented within 24 hours, Ghaly said. The state’s vaccine advisory committee and a prioritization guidelines workgroup are already reviewing the suggested guidelines.

“Those communications have already begun and will go throughout the day so we can evaluate the new federal guidance, determine how it’s going to impact what we do here in California and — with haste without delay — getting that updated guidance out,” Ghaly said. “(I) expect that will come in the next 24 hours or so, so we can let all Californians benefit.”

In response to the complaints about the slower-than-planned vaccine rollout, some Southern California areas are already moving ahead with a wider availability. Long Beach health officials announced Tuesday they will begin offering vaccines to residents 75 and older beginning Saturday, with clinics held weekly for people in that age group. Orange County officials announced that they will immediately begin offering vaccines to people 65 and over.

Gov. Gavin Newsom said Monday the state has only administered about one-third of the nearly 2.5 million vaccine doses it has received so far. And Ferrer said Monday it would likely take until the end of January to finish vaccinating all health care workers listed in Phase 1A of the priority list.

Despite reports about some people being hesitant to get vaccinated, others are pushing to get the shots faster. On Monday, leaders of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union locals representing workers at the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach sent a letter to county health officials and the governor, asking that they become eligible for vaccines at the beginning of Phase 1B. Pasadena’s City Council on Monday flirted with filing an appeal to the state to simplify the process.

Southern California’s infrastructure to deliver vaccines will grow in the days ahead. Dodger Stadium will open later this week as a drive-thru vaccination facility, as will a Disneyland parking area. Petco Park in San Diego is also home to a vaccination clinic.

The daily county report did not include the latest numbers for Long Beach and Pasadena, which operate their own health departments. Pasadena reported 195 new cases for a total of 8,708; eight new fatalities increased the city’s death toll to 184. Long Beach reported 24 new deaths, bringing the city’s total to 482; 2,521 new cases raised the city’s total to 41,079.

Continuing to trouble the region’s public health officials, meanwhile, are outbreaks of three or more cases at local businesses.

Familiar names are filling the county’s list of companies with outbreaks:

  • A 3M facility in Monrovia (18 infected);
  • The 99 Cents Only store warehouse and corporate office in Commerce (113 infected);
  • An Abbot Laboratories facility in Sylmar (30);
  • Alexander’s Prime Meats in San Gabriel (15); and
  • The Alhambra Fire Department’s Station No. 1 (5).

In recent business compliance checks, inspectors found the majority of businesses visited were in compliance with public health order protocols, officials said.

But some were not adhering to capacity limits, physical distancing and mask wearing and had not posted required protocol checklists.

Between Jan. 3 through Jan. 11,  83 citations were issued to businesses. They included restaurants, gyms, personal care salons, hair salons/barbershops, places of worship, and shopping malls, officials said Tuesday. And since the end of August, 613 citations have been issued.

Ferrer again urged residents to abide by state and county health orders by staying home when possible, avoiding large gatherings and wearing masks in public.

“Like many residents, I am cheering for the Rams in the playoffs and grateful to be able to watch basketball games again, but we cannot make the same mistakes we did last year,” Ferrer said Tuesday. “There were far too many gatherings, viewing parties, and celebrations with others that contributed to increased cases; the outcome will be disastrous to our healthcare system if we don’t follow the rules.”

City News Service contributed to this report. 

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