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For Immediate Release:

March 17, 2021

Healthcare Worker and Skilled Nursing Home Cases Significantly Decline as Vaccinations Increase 75 New Deaths and 897 New Positive Cases of Confirmed COVID-19 in Los Angeles County

The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health (Public Health) has confirmed 75 new deaths and 897 new cases of COVID-19. To date, Public Health identified 1,211,733 positive cases of COVID-19 across all areas of L.A. County and a total of 22,580 deaths. Public Health has tragically confirmed one of the reported COVID-19 deaths is a young person, under the age of 18. Details about underlying health conditions is unknown for this person. This brings the total number of deaths among children from COVID-19 to 2.

The seven-day average number of daily cases by episode date has decreased to 524 new cases per day as of March 9; the lowest since April 2.

There are 857 people with COVID-19 currently hospitalized and 28% of these people are in the ICU. Average daily hospitalizations are now under 1,000, at pre-surge early-November levels.

Testing results are available for more than 5,972,000 individuals with 19% of people testing positive. Today's daily test positivity rate is 1.9%.

The 7-day average number of daily deaths also continues to decline, and as of March 9, is 24. On February 9, the average number of daily deaths was 118.

Of the 75 new deaths reported today, 27 people that passed away were over the age of 80, 29 people who died were between the ages of 65 and 79, 12 people who died were between the ages of 50 and 64, four people who died were between the ages of 30 and 49, and one youth under the age of 18. Two deaths were reported by the City of Long Beach. The first group of people to be vaccinated in L.A. County were our heroes; those serving on the frontlines at our hospitals, in our healthcare facilities, and in the homes of those requiring constant care. Since late December, when healthcare workers began to be vaccinated, we have seen their cases plummet. During the last week of December, there were 1,730 new cases of COVID-19 among healthcare workers. In the past three weeks, there have been less than 100 new cases across the entire county each week, the smallest number of weekly cases we have seen among healthcare workers during the pandemic. This is by far the lowest number of new cases of COVID-19 among healthcare workers since last March and, in part, reflects that the vast majority of our healthcare workers are vaccinated.

Currently, 79% of skilled nursing home staff and 78% of residents received at least a first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine and 74% of all staff and 69% of residents received their second dose and are fully vaccinated. It’s important to note that there is high turnover rate among residents in these facilities, and this number only reflects rates among current residents, not the total number of residents who have been vaccinated. When the vaccine first was administered to residents at skilled nursing homes in L.A. County in late December, the average daily number of cases was over 200 a day and has dropped to 3 a day as of March 9. This is excellent evidence that these vaccines are working and adding a much-needed layer of protection among those with significant exposures, our healthcare workers, and those most vulnerable, our residents at skilled nursing facilities.

To date, Public Health has confirmed a total of 55 cases of COVID-19 U.K. variant, two cases of the B.1.525 variant, which was also first identified in the U.K., 21 cases of the New York variant and 1 case of the P.2 variant from Brazil in Los Angeles County. There have been no cases identified of the South African variant. In addition, there have been 35 California variant B.1.427 cases identified and 276 of the California Variant B.1.429. The B.1.427 and the B.1.429 are both, slightly different sequences of what is commonly called the California variant. Variants remain a concern, even as more and more people are vaccinated. As we plan for additional re-openings, we know that if there is more transmission of the COVID-19, there is more risk of variants dominating. It is important for all of us to continue to do everything we can to reduce transmission, including masking and maintaining physical distance whenever we are outside of our homes and around others.

“To all who are mourning someone who has passed away from COVID-19, we are deeply sorry for your loss and we wish you healing and peace at this very difficult time," said Barbara Ferrer, PhD, MPH, MEd, Director of Public Health. "I want to ask everyone to resist any temptation to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day in crowded gatherings with people you do not live with. We know all too well what happens when we stop, even just for one day, doing what we know prevents the transmission for COVID-19. A relatively small gathering can have serious unintended consequences leading to people becoming sick and even dying. Right now, with as much progress as we have made, it is simply not worth moving backwards for a night of celebrating in ways that are not safe."

As of March 16, 1,810 schools are providing on-campus services for high needs students. This includes over 99,000 students and over 36,000 staff. A total of 55 school districts and 466 individual private and charter schools are approved for in-person instruction of students in grades TK through 12. We are surveying schools to assess which schools have already opened for in class instruction and are scheduling site visits as appropriate. Schools have a variety of required safety strategies that must be implemented in order to open for on-campus learning and activities. Research has demonstrated that, when these strategies are layered together, schools can open for in-person learning in an environment that significantly reduces virus transmission.

In Elementary Schools creating and maintaining stable groups is required for return to in person instruction. Elementary education is usually delivered to students who stay in one classroom for all or most of the day with the same teacher, so maintaining stable groups is not that complicated for them.

In middle and high schools, Public Health is aligned with state directives and does not require stable grouping of students in that setting. We do, though, recommend stable groups as a best practice that middle and high schools should adopt when reopening. We recommend maintaining stable groups of not more than 100-120 students and a team of teachers assigned to interact only with this one group of students.

Our school technical assistance team contacts all schools that are reopening to offer support and arrange site visits to ensure compliance with the safety protocols and recommendations for improvement. Since many families are still not comfortable sending their children back to school for onsite learning, schools that are open for in-person learning need to also offer 100% distance learning as an option for those families that prefer it.

Outbreaks at schools have been relatively infrequent in L.A. County. There have been 86 K-12 school affiliated outbreaks since Sept 1, 2020. Two of the outbreaks had more than 12 cases and 66 of the outbreaks had less than 6 cases. Outbreaks at schools increased during the surge and steadily declined starting in January, after school outbreaks peaked at 15 for 2 weeks in a row. Starting in early February, there have been no new outbreaks in schools.

School staff have been eligible to be vaccinated since March 1. Many partners including school districts, schools, providers, unions, and health care providers worked together to coordinate closed pods for every single school district and additional vaccination sites for independent schools. To date, 102,730 vaccine doses have been allocated to teachers and staff in K-12 public and independent schools through closed pods. Public Health also continues to set aside appointments at the large capacity county sites for teachers and school staff. This Sunday, March 21, there will be vaccinations available for teachers and staff of independent schools at all five county large vaccination sites.

Last week, the state hit its goal of vaccinating 2 million people who are living in communities across the state with the lowest scored on the Healthy Places Index (HPI). They have set an additional goal of vaccinating 4 million people in these areas. L.A. County is vaccinating a larger percent of people in communities with fewer resources when compared to California overall. Last week, 32% of the people vaccinated in L.A. County were people who live in communities with the lowest HPI score, compared to the state, where 19% of people vaccinated live in the communities with the lowest HPI score. Public Health is relieved that we are able to get vaccines to the communities where we need them the most.

Public Health, in partnership with Los Angeles County school districts, is supporting the Public Health Ambassador Program for students and parents. The program actively engages school communities in preventing and reducing the spread of COVID-19 by empowering students and parents as essential partners in each school’s prevention effort. Dozens of parents have participated in four virtual sessions, and there have been 1,710 informational calls with individual parents. We will continue to provide these sessions for the Los Angeles Unified School District parent volunteers in April and will be working with the Los Angeles County Office of Education to offer similar opportunities across all the school districts. In the student ambassador program sessions, a space is created where the emotional and social need for community is addressed while we work with youth to build leadership skills and understanding about the tools available for preventing COIVD-19. Quotes from the latest virtual session include:

The pandemic has disrupted connection and community for so many people, and we are happy that our students are finding in these sessions a space to experience these essential connections. Currently, residents who are eligible for the vaccine include residents who are age 65 and older and residents of LA County with certain underlying health conditions or disability that make them at increased risk of serious illness from COVID-19 or make their care very difficult if they were to become infected with COVID-19.

Workers either living or working in LA County eligible for vaccine include the following categories: residents and staff at long-term care healthcare, education, food and agriculture, emergency services and law enforcement and first responders. Also included in the new categories by the State are transportation workers, janitors and custodians, utility workers and childcare workers.

People who are living in residential settings where there is an increased risk of transmission are also eligible to be vaccinated. These include people living in long-term care facilities, people who are experiencing homelessness who are living in a shelter or are likely to live in a shelter, people living in residential treatment programs for behavioral health or substance use disorders, and people who are incarcerated.

Visit: www.VaccinateLACounty.com (English) and www.VacunateLosAngeles.com (Spanish) for more information on who is eligible, how to make an appointment if it is your turn, and what verifications you will need when you show up for your vaccine. As a reminder, vaccinations are always free and open to eligible residents and workers regardless of immigration status.

County Reopening Protocols, COVID-19 Surveillance Interactive Dashboard, Roadmap to Recovery, Recovery Dashboard, and additional actions you can take to protect yourself, your family and your community are on the Public Health website, www.publichealth.lacounty.gov.

Please see additional information below:

Laboratory Confirmed Total Cases 1211733*

Deaths 22580

Age Group (Los Angeles County Cases Only-excl LB and Pas)

Gender (Los Angeles County Cases Only-excl LB and Pas)

Race/Ethnicity (Los Angeles County Cases Only-excl LB and Pas)

Hospitalization

Deaths Race/Ethnicity (Los Angeles County Cases Only-excl LB and Pas)

CITY / COMMUNITY** Cases (Case Rate)

These numbers are subject to change based on further investigation. 69 cases and 8 deaths previously reported were not in Public Health's jurisdiction. * Means that case numbers include cases associated with correctional facility outbreaks located in the city/community. **Rate is crude and is per 100,000. This represents the number of cases per 100,000 people and allows for the proportional comparison of cities of different sizes.

Always check with trusted sources for the latest accurate information about novel coronavirus:

The Department of Public Health is committed to promoting health equity and ensuring optimal health and well-being for all 10 million residents of Los Angeles County. Through a variety of programs, community partnerships and services, Public Health oversees environmental health, disease control, and community and family health. Nationally accredited by the Public Health Accreditation Board, the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health comprises nearly 4,500 employees and has an annual budget of $1.2 billion. To learn more about Los Angeles County Public Health, please visit www.publichealth .lacounty.gov, and follow LA County Public Health on social media at twitter.com/lacounty.gov, and follow LA County Public Health on social media at twitter.com/lapublichealth, facebook.com/lapublichealth, instagram.com/lapublichealth and youtube.com/lapublichealth.




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