The peaks and valleys of COVID-19 have been unpredictable in Los Angeles County and across the country. That’s why each week Crosstown reports on five things to know about COVID-19 in Los Angeles. For specific neighborhood information, check out the Crosstown coronavirus interactive map.
1) Make it medium
A key metric when assessing COVID-19 is the hospital admission rate, and on Thursday a milestone was achieved: The county moved from the High Community Level, a ranking determined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, to the Medium Level. Counties sit in the high category when they have more than 10 admissions per 100,000 residents. L.A. County had been there for weeks, but on Thursday the level slipped to 9.9 admissions per 100,000. This doesn’t change day-to-day behavioral recommendations—safety remains paramount—but it is one of the factors suggesting that the current wave of infections has peaked.
That is augmented by the number of people seeking high-level medical care. A rising number of hospitalizations almost pushed the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health to institute a new mask mandate, though a slight decline in late July prompted health officials to hold off. On Wednesday, 1,105 county residents with COVID-19 were in area hospitals, down from 1,328 three weeks prior. The seven-day average for hospitalizations fell 5.7% from the previous week.
2) Cases continue falling
The number of new COVID-19 cases recorded in the county has fallen for the third consecutive week. On Wednesday, there were 4,514 cases identified, bringing the seven-day average to 3,868. That represents a 26.1% decrease from one week prior, and the lowest average reported since May 23.
On Tuesday, the seven-day case rate stood at 376 cases per week per 100,000 county residents. While still higher than during the spring, that is down from 426 one week before.
3) Vaccination protection
Time and time again, health officials and elected leaders have stated that COVID-19 vaccines and boosters are the most effective tool to protect against infection, serious illness and death.
So how is it working? Since Jan. 1, 2021, just under 7 million Los Angeles County residents have been vaccinated, according to a County Department of Public Health dashboard. There have been 1,044,752 confirmed COVID-19 cases among vaccinated residents in this period. That means 15% of those with a full course of shots have contracted the coronavirus, according to the dashboard.
Dig deeper and the benefits of protection become more evident. According to the dashboard, just 0.23% of vaccinated residents—15,920 Angelenos—have been hospitalized due to COVID-19. Of those vaccinated, there have been 2,606 fatalities, which works out to 0.04% of people with shots.
4) Concern for people experiencing homelessness
COVID-19 continues to have a serious impact on people experiencing homelessness. The Department of Public Health releases a weekly report detailing how the virus is impacting the unhoused.
In the week of July 24–30, there were 265 confirmed cases among people experiencing homelessness, bringing the pandemic total to 20,430. There have been 355 confirmed deaths of unhoused county residents.
According to the Department of Public Health, 59% of those infected were sheltered at the time of diagnosis, and 23% were living in encampments or otherwise lacking permanent shelter. The status was unknown in 18% of infections.
5) Doing it for the kids
As children return to school, much has changed. The Los Angeles Unified School District, which starts classes Aug. 15, is no longer doing weekly testing of its staff and nearly half-million students. Masks are recommended but not required on campus.
Throughout the pandemic, more than 630,000 people under 18 in L.A. County have contracted COVID-19. During the four weeks ending Aug. 6, there were 13,438 cases among kids ages 5-17.
Although many children do not experience severe illness, 1,866 kids ages 5-17 have been hospitalized. Since the start of the pandemic, there have been 12 fatalities among children under 18, according to the Department of Public Health.
Health officials urge parents to get their kids vaccinated. During the three-month period ending July 21, unvaccinated children were nearly four times more likely to need treatment in hospitals than their fully vaccinated counterparts.
According to the Department of Public Health, 35% of those ages 5-11 have received COVID-19 shots. Meanwhile, 79% of people 12-17 are fully vaccinated.
There are 163 mobile vaccination sites at county schools, making shots extremely convenient.
How we did it: We analyzed coronavirus data related to new cases, deaths, hospitalizations and vaccinations provided by the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health.