THE Los Angeles County Department of Public Health (Public Health) this week provided the framework for lifting masking requirements at events and indoor establishments.
For outdoor mega events involving more than 10,000 people, Public Health outlined that before masking requirements are lifted, all of the following criteria need to be met: L.A. County case rates must demonstrate three consecutive weeks at or below moderate transmission as defined by the CDC – that is, less than 50 new weekly cases per 100,000 residents; hospitalizations remain low and stable at or below 600 daily COVID hospitalizations for three consecutive weeks; 80% or more of county residents 12 and older are fully vaccinated; and there are no emerging reports of significantly circulating new variants of concern that threaten vaccine effectiveness.
For masking requirements to be lifted at indoor events or establishments involving fewer than 1,000 people, including indoor offices and worksites, sites must have a vaccination verification process in place, and all employees and customers must be fully vaccinated, accommodating with additional requirements those employees with approved exemptions. Additionally, L.A. County metrics must meet all of the same standards as for lifting masking requirements at outdoor mega events.
Indoor masking will remain mandatory due to federal and state requirements on public transit and transportation hubs (federal), and at TK-12 schools, childcare, and youth settings; healthcare settings; correctional facilities; homeless and emergency shelters and cooling centers; and indoor mega events involving more than 1,000 people (state).
In LA County, 900,000 children between the ages of 5 and 11 will likely become newly eligible for vaccination this week. The County is well prepared to vaccinate children once the CDC grants final approval. Currently, the County expects to get nearly 300,000 doses as part of its first three waves of vaccine supply by the end of this week; the first pediatric doses are arriving today with additional doses scheduled to arrive later this week. If the CDC approves pediatric vaccines today, sites that already received doses may be able to start vaccinating as early as tomorrow afternoon or on Thursday. Doses are being allocated to the County and to the rest of the country on a pro-rata basis. Public Health does not anticipate scarcity, and expects there will be ample vaccine to meet demand.
A network of nearly 900 providers countywide is prepared to provide vaccines to children between the ages of 5 and 11. County mobile vaccination teams will work to supplement vaccinations offered by existing providers so that children have easy access to our most powerful protection from COVID-19. Over the course of the month of November, vaccines for children will be offered at 480 school-based events with a focus on schools in high-need areas.
Public Health confirms 17 new deaths and 896 new cases of COVID-19. Of the 17 new deaths reported today, three people who passed away were over the age of 80, five people who died were between the ages of 65 and 79, three people who died were between the ages of 50 and 64, and two people who died were between the ages of 30 and 49. Four deaths were reported by the City of Long Beach. To date, Public Health has identified 1,495,014 positive cases of COVID-19 across all areas of L.A. County and a total of 26,661 deaths.
The County’s daily average case rate, with a 3-day lag, is 9.0 cases per 100,000 people, a slight increase from last week’s 3-day-lagged case rate of 8.0 cases per 100,000. CDC’s estimation of the County’s weekly case rate is 80.3 new cases per 100,000 residents, reflecting continued substantial transmission across the county and a small increase from last week’s case rate of 72 new cases per 100,000 residents.
There are 659 people with COVID-19 currently hospitalized and 26% of these people are in the ICU. This is an increase of 30 daily hospitalizations over the past week.
Testing results are available for more than 9,076,000 individuals with 15% of people testing positive. Today’s test positivity rate is 1.0%.
“Our deepest condolences to those who are grieving the loss of a friend, neighbor, coworker, or loved one at this time. Our prayers and thoughts are with you,” said Barbara Ferrer, PhD, MPH, MEd, Director of Public Health. “We are hopeful that with continued increases in vaccination and boosters and adherence to the existing common sense safety precautions, we can reach a lower level of community transmission that positions us to lift the masking requirements. While transmission is substantial, we need to continue layering on protections, understanding that significant spread of the virus affects unvaccinated individuals and increasingly results in post-vaccination infections among those vaccinated. Substantial spread also creates a fertile breeding ground for new variants that can threaten our progress to date. Let’s continue to do what it takes to enable everyone to celebrate the upcoming holidays with family and friends, rather than being quarantined, sick, or hospitalized.”
As the Thanksgiving holiday approaches, it can be helpful to plan ahead in order to have the safest and healthiest gatherings possible. Getting yourself and your loved ones vaccinated now gives you the best chance at having some protection from COVID over the holidays. Public Health recommends staying local until everyone in your household is fully vaccinated, and if you travel with unvaccinated family members, including young children, planning enough travel time to complete quarantine before joining the holiday gathering. Gathering outdoors is safest, especially when masks are off for eating and drinking. If outdoors isn’t possible or practical, improve the air flow indoors by opening windows and doors, using fans and portable air cleaners, and running the heating or air conditioner with upgraded or replaced filters.
Los Angeles County is administering boosters for all three FDA-approved vaccines; Pfizer, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson. People eligible for boosters include adults of any age who received their first Johnson & Johnson dose at least two months ago, and people who got the second dose of their Pfizer or Moderna vaccines at least six months ago and are 65-plus years old or are over 18 and live in long-term care settings, have underlying medical conditions, or work or live in high-risk settings.
To find a vaccination site near you, make an appointment at vaccination sites, and much more, visit: www.VaccinateLACounty.com (English). If you don’t have internet access, can’t use a computer, or you’re over 65, you can call 1-833-540-0473 for help finding an appointment, connecting to free transportation to and from a vaccination site, or scheduling a home-visit if you are homebound. n