Each week, Crosstown breaks down 5 things to know about COVID-19 in Los Angeles County. Here is the latest information on the region’s progress against the pandemic.
1) Protecting against Omicron
A week ago, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention approved the use of updated COVID-19 boosters; the Pfizer-BioNTech version is available to people 12 and older, and the Moderna vaccine is for those 18 and up. This marks the first update since the original COVID-19 vaccines were introduced in late 2020.
The new options are “bivalent,” meaning they protect against the initial virus, and add components to safeguard against Omicron BA.4 and BA.5, which have been the dominant strains across the country this summer. As of Sept. 3, 89% of COVID-19 cases were due to BA.5, and 11% were caused by BA.4, according to the CDC.
The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health has dispensed the updated vaccine to hundreds of sites across the region. Locations where they are available can be found online or by calling (833) 540-0473.
2) Cases keep falling
The number of weekly new COVID-19 cases has now fallen for eight consecutive weeks, to just below 15,000. During the week of Aug. 31–Sept. 6, the Department of Public Health reported 4,160 fewer cases than the week prior. That is a 21.7% decrease.
The seven-day average of COVID-19 cases is now 2,142, the lowest level since May 2.
3) Decreasing deaths
After a steady decline, the number of deaths due to COVID-19 increased two weeks ago. Now the course has changed again. From Aug. 31–Sept. 6, there were 14 fewer fatalities reported in the county than the week before. This fluctuation demonstrates how deaths are a “lagging indicator,” and trail changes in new cases or hospitalizations by weeks or sometimes months.
Since the onset of the pandemic, there have been more than 33,300 deaths due to COVID-19 in Los Angeles County.
4) Take the shot
Vaccines remain the best way to prevent COVID-19 infections, severe symptoms and death. But as has long been the case, holdouts remain.
The County Department of Public Health reports that since Jan. 1, 2021, just over 7 million county residents have been vaccinated. During this 20-month period, 1,147,096 vaccinated individuals have contracted COVID-19. While the figure may seem high and cause alarm, it means that only 16.3% of vaccinated residents have tested positive for the virus (figures are likely higher, as many mild cases detected by home tests are not reported to health officials).
Angelenos who have received a full course of vaccines are catching the coronavirus far less than those who refuse to be jabbed. As of Aug. 28, unvaccinated individuals were three times more likely to be infected than their fully protected counterparts.
Of Angelenos who contracted COVID-19 after being vaccinated, only 0.27% have been hospitalized. Just 0.04% of people fully vaccinated have died due to the virus.
5) Surge protection
One week ago, the CDC moved Los Angeles County back into the Low Community Level, a designation reflecting reduced stress on the local healthcare system. However, concerns remain about new variants, particularly as fall approaches and the weather begins to cool. Health officials recommend taking preventative measures now by getting vaccinated or boosted. The Department of Public Health also has a free program to pick up PCR test kits.
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.