There was good news and bad news on the LA Covid-19 frontline on Friday. On the one hand, key figures were practically down in all areas. On the other hand, with the variants of the virus worrying officials and the rollout of vaccines in the region, there were fears of another surge.
“Cases peaked at around 15,000 a day and now appear to be on the decline,” said Dr. Paul Simon, Los Angeles County science director.
The county’s reported daily Covid-19 death toll remained high, with 256 deaths reported on Friday. It was the third day in a row, the number surpassing 200, with 262 deaths reported Wednesday and Thursday.
The county also reported 9,277 more cases, but health officials noted Thursday that the average daily number of new cases fell 30% last week.
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The most recent figures provided by the state show 7,073 people hospitalized in the county, including 1,687 in intensive care. That’s a significant drop from the 8,000-plus patients who were reported in early January and which gave hope that the number of hospitalizations due to the virus would drop below 7,000 for the first time this year.
Daily COVID-19 Update:
January 22, 2021
New cases: 9277 (1054802 to date)
New deaths: 262 (14,894 to date)
Current hospitalizations: 7,073 pic.twitter.com/mARqx1UE26
– LA Public health (@lapublichealth) January 22, 2021
“Despite these promising trends,” said Simon, “I would like to stress that the number of cases, hospitalizations and deaths remains far too high. So while there is reason to hope, we must all remain vigilant and continue to be disciplined.
Simon also noted that despite Thursday’s triumph of 7,730 vaccinations at Dodger Stadium earlier this week, the county was struggling to administer the vaccines. He blamed a shortage of available doses and continued uncertainty about future allocations. He noted that the large-scale county vaccination sites that opened this week – each capable of delivering 4,000 injections per day – will operate at a much lower capacity next week, likely from 2,000 to 2,500 vaccinations per day. Why?
The county expects to receive about 143,900 additional doses of the vaccine next week. However, as people are due to receive two doses of the drug, spaced three to four weeks apart, most of the vaccine coming next week will be used to give second doses to people who have already received the first vaccine. Public health director Barbara Ferrer earlier estimated that only 37,900 of the doses coming next week will be available for people to receive their first dose.
Simon said on Friday the most recent figures showed 441,140 doses of the vaccine had already been administered in the county, although he said that number was likely much higher due to delays in counting vaccination totals . As of that week, the county had received approximately 853,000 total doses.
Simon said people shouldn’t look at these numbers and assume that there are 400,000 unused doses in the county, again noting the delay in immunization reports and daily dosing. He also stressed the need to use much of the drug as a second dose for people who already have
received the first blow.
If the county’s weekly allowance does not improve significantly beyond the current average of around 150,000 people, “the vaccination effort will likely continue until 2022,” Simon said.
“We hope vaccine production and shipments to California will increase,” he said. “We have a new federal administration committed to making this happen. We are also hoping that several other vaccine manufacturers will receive federal approval for emergency use of their vaccines in the coming months, which should help increase supplies in California and ultimately in County of. Los Angeles.
He said if the county could increase its allowance to 500,000 per week, “we would have the potential to reach 75% of the county’s adult population, or 6 million adults, by the middle of the year. summer.”
In the meantime, he urged patience, saying, “We understand how important it is to distribute the vaccine as quickly as possible.”
Even with the number of Covid cases and hospitalizations falling, the imperative for rapid vaccine deployment has been underscored by growing reports of new virus variants – some in California – that could be more infectious. and, potentially, less sensitive to current vaccines.
City News Service contributed to this report.