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L.A. County exceeds 3,000 daily coronavirus cases as surge worsens

A woman gets a shot from a medical worker
Socorro Santamaria receives a COVID-19 vaccination at the Pico Union Project on Friday.
(Al Seib / Los Angeles Times)

Los Angeles County reported 3,058 new coronavirus cases Friday, as a troubling surge of the Delta variant continued to worsen and officials urged people to take precautions.

New infections have exceeded 2,500 each of the past three days, levels the county has not seen since the winter surge in February. Officials said Friday the positivity rate was 5.2%, up from 4% last Friday.

This surge is predominantly hitting people who have not been vaccinated. But with the highly infectious Delta variant racing through the region, additional measures — such as wearing masks inside crowded public places — can further armor everyone against transmission.

Hospitalizations are also rising, with the number hitting 655 on Friday. The previous Friday that number stood at 452. Despite this, L.A. remains in far better shape than during the fall-and-winter surge, when an average of about 15,000 new cases were being reported every day and more than 8,000 COVID-19 patients were hospitalized at times.

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More than half of Californians are now fully vaccinated, yet coronavirus transmission has gone up. And while case rates are rising in both vaccinated and unvaccinated people, the rates continue to be much worse in unvaccinated people — a trend that’s expected when viral transmission rises.

Officials stressed both the vaccinated and unvaccinated need to show caution as the Delta variant spreads but the best protection is to get vaccinated.

“Vaccines are like our umbrella: excellent protection on most rainy days. But when the rain gets really intense, for example during a bad thunderstorm, we might also throw on a raincoat,” L.A. County Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer said Thursday.

She added: “When you have a more infectious variant that’s circulating and you see what we see now, lots of community transmission, you can expect exactly what we’re seeing: lots more people getting infected, including more people who are fully vaccinated. While our numbers have been going up, they would be much higher if we didn’t have as many people fully vaccinated.”

Such breakthrough cases are rare, but not unpredicted, experts say.

“Infections after vaccination are expected. No vaccine is 100% effective,” said Dr. Anthony Fauci, the U.S. government’s top infectious-diseases expert. “However, even if a vaccine does not completely protect against infection, it usually, if it’s successful, protects against serious disease.”


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