L.A. City and County COVID-19 Weekly Update (February 23, 2021)

CA Health and Government COVID-19 Guidance: Week in Review

COVID-19 Rates and Hospitalizations Continue to Fall

COVID-19 infection rates continue to fall in L.A. County, and as of Tuesday, February 16, 2021, the County’s daily case rate fell below 25 new cases per 100,000 residents. In addition, hospitalizations continue to drop, with daily hospitalizations below 3,000 for every day of the week for the first time since December 2020. Finally, daily test positivity rates fell and are now below 5%.

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However, in a press release issued on Thursday, February 18, 2021, the County Department of Public Health said that it remains “concerned that actions over the Super Bowl weekend and this past holiday weekend could lead to increases in cases if individuals were not taking precautions and businesses were not fully adhering to their sector-specific protocols. Public Health is carefully monitoring data over the upcoming weeks to see the impact across County communities.”

Despite improvements, the County remains in Tier 1 of the State’s Blueprint, along with 47 other of the state’s 58 counties. As of Tuesday, February 23, the state’s adjusted case rate for the County was 15.2 cases per 100,000 residents. The number must be below 7 cases per 100,000 in order for the county to move to Tier 2.

Hospital Capacity

Last week, the L.A. County Department of Health Services (LADHS) announced that COVID-19-related hospitalizations in L.A. County fell to 2,757, a 66% drop from the peak of 8,098 on January 6, 2021. However, this number is still higher than the summer surge peak of 2,232. The latest LADHS survey update shows ICU bed capacity rising slightly as well.

As of last week, the County’s estimated transmission number (“R”) was 0.81. Any number below 1.0 indicates reduced community transmission. The County’s model suggests that approximately 0.22% of individuals in L.A. County are currently infected, indicating approximately 1 in 460 residents are currently infectious to others. The previous week, this estimate was 1 in 360.

Vaccinations

On Friday, February 19, 2021, the County announced that it had administered nearly 1.7 million vaccine doses, with 6% of County residents over age 16 now fully vaccinated.

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On Tuesday, February 16, 2021, a new vaccination site opened at Cal State L.A., which is jointly run by the state and FEMA. The site will be able to vaccinate up to 6,000 people per day, and also includes two mobile vaccination units.

Mayor Garcetti also announced a new initiative, Mobile Outreach for Vaccine Equity (MOVE), to put ten mobile vaccination teams in the field by the end of March 2021, focusing on high-need and disadvantaged communities. The City is also opening a dedicated lane at the Dodger Stadium site for users of L.A. Access paratransit. However, last week the City experienced the unanticipated closure of several vaccination sites, due to shortages. This was the second such wave of closures in as many weeks. There were no impacts to County vaccination sites. City vaccination sites are scheduled to reopen on Tuesday, February 23, 2021.

Going forward, the County is planning to open vaccination appointments for teachers and additional sectors such as food service and law enforcement by March 1, 2021. This includes approximately 1.5 million additional individuals who will be eligible for vaccinations. On Friday, February 19, 2021, Governor Newsom announced California will designate 10% of its weekly allotment of COVID-19 vaccine doses for educators beginning in March.

Elementary School Reopenings

At a press conference on Tuesday, February 16, 2021, L.A. County Board of Supervisors Chair Hilda Solis announced that the County is below the state’s threshold of fewer than 25 COVID-19 cases per 100,000 residents, meaning schools in grades TK-6th may reopen.

Testing

At a press conference on Thursday, February 18, 2021, Mayor Garcetti announced that, "the City has conducted more COVID-19 tests than there are people in the city, with more than 4 million tests done so far." Beginning next week, appointments will no longer be required for testing at City testing sites.

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