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L.A. County reports more than 2,600 new daily coronavirus cases, continuing surge

A woman receives a shot
Socorro Santamaria receives a COVID-19 vaccination at the Pico Union Project on Friday.



(Al Seib/Los Angeles Times)

Los Angeles County reported 2,600 new coronavirus cases Saturday as the highly contagious Delta variant continues to spread and officials caution of a new surge.

The county also reported 10 new deaths Saturday, bringing the total to 24,624 fatalities since the pandemic began early last year.

Across the county, 688 people are hospitalized with COVID-19 and 21% are in intensive care units. The daily test positivity average over the past seven days was 4.31%.

“With unvaccinated individuals comprising over 90% of those currently hospitalized, the ability of the three vaccines to protect us from serious illness caused by the Delta variant is well established,” L.A. County Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer said.

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On Friday, new daily cases in the county topped 3,000 for the first time since February.

L.A. County is now requiring everyone to wear masks in indoor public settings, regardless of vaccination status. Some restaurants are voluntarily closing their doors in response to the latest surge.

The unvaccinated face much of the risk in this stage of the pandemic, officials said. Hospitalizations and deaths are extraordinarily rare among vaccinated people.

More than half of Californians are fully vaccinated. While so-called breakthrough cases among vaccinated people have been seen, the vaccine is highly effective where it counts: protecting against severe illness.

Earlier this week, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the U.S. government’s top infectious-diseases expert, cited studies showing the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines were 95% and 94% effective against symptomatic COVID-19. The single-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine has been found 72% effective against clinically recognizable disease.

“Infections after vaccination are expected. No vaccine is 100% effective,” Fauci said. “However, even if a vaccine does not completely protect against infection, it usually, if it’s successful, protects against serious disease.”

Nationally, more than 97% of people hospitalized for COVID-19 have not been vaccinated, according to Dr. Rochelle Walensky, director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Cases among vaccinated people are generally less severe because they carry less virus, public health experts explain.

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The vaccine is “fighting the infection in your nose and bringing down the viral load, and you don’t get symptoms,” Dr. Monica Gandhi, an infectious-disease expert at UC San Francisco, said earlier this month. “I don’t call that a vaccine failure. I call that a success because that’s exactly what your vaccine is supposed to do.”

Statewide, from July 7 to 14, the average case rate among unvaccinated Californians was 13 per 100,000, according to the state Department of Public Health. Among those who had been vaccinated, the figure was 2 per 100,000.

Across L.A. County, officials have been hosting community vaccination events to reach stragglers in areas hit hardest by the pandemic. On Friday, about two dozen people turned up for doses at a clinic in Pico-Union. On Saturday morning, Mayor Eric Garcetti joined L.A. County Supervisor Holly Mitchell, City Councilman Mark Ridley-Thomas, and state Sen. Sydney Kamlager at a community vaccination event in Leimert Park — a neighborhood where 59.5% of people age 16 and over have received at least one dose, according to county data.

“We still have about 4 million residents in Los Angeles County that are not yet vaccinated, and risk of increased spread of the Delta variant remains high,” Mitchell said. “This is why it’s so important that we are here in Leimert Park and that we continue to do all we can to reach Black and Latinx communities who are disproportionately impacted by COVID 19.”

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Racial disparities in vaccination rates remain pronounced countywide. Among Latinos, 55% have received at least one dose, compared with 66% of white residents. In the Black community, that number is even lower, at 46%.

“It’s the same communities who have been impacted the most that are still not getting vaccinated,” Dr. Yelba Castellon-Lopez, an assistant professor with UCLA’s Department of Family Medicine, told The Times. “It’s a preventable catastrophe.”

City News Service and Times staff writers Rong-Gong Lin II, Luke Money and Brittny Mejia contributed to this report.


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