LA County coronavirus hospitalizations log four-fold increase in just one month

The troubling Delta variant sent more coronavirus-infected Los Angeles County residents to hospitals on Monday, Aug. 2. Nonetheless, a new month brought new hope that more people were heeding recent messaging from public health officials to get vaccinated.

The state reported 1,138 people were hospitalized with COVID-19, a jump of 42 from Sunday; 248 patients were intensive care, a jump of 12 from the day before.  The statistics reflect a nearly four-fold increase just one month’s time — on July 2, only 280 people were hospitalized the virus.

With numbers likely reflecting a lag caused by scale-back weekend record-keeping, officials reported 2,361 new cases of COVID-19 and five more deaths on Monday. The totals since the pandemic began rose to 1,305,704 positive cases and 24,690 deaths.

While the human toll remained sobering, glimmers were emerging that more people were getting the vaccine, the key weapon public health officials have tapped to fight the .

The number of people getting their first jab shot up 40%, compared to the week before at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, according to the hospital, which proclaimed in a statement that “more people are finally getting their shot.”

Six hundred people were vaccinated at the hospital, consistent with statewide increases showing that the number of first  doses ticked up by 20% in the week of July 19 compared to July 12.

The Providence network of local clinics also reported increased demand at its San Fernando Valley sites that included Pacoima, Reseda and Canoga Park.

“At our San Fernando Valley clinics, we’ve seen increased demand for pop-up clinics, which we have been conducting in partnerships with churches and faith-based organizations,” said Anthony Ortiz Luis, director of community health investment in the valley. “In the last month, we’ve averaged more than 125 individuals at the pop up clinics we’ve conducted at churches.”

That was a considerable spike from June, when the pop-up clinics were averaging around the 50 to 75 appointments per clinic.

L.A. County, in general, has seen two weeks in a row of upticks in the number of people getting a first dose. Ferrer said last week that between July 19 and July 25, about 70,000 doses were administered in the county, up about 7,500 from the week before.

“Any increase in the number of individuals being vaccinated at this point is very welcome news,” said infectious disease specialist Dr. Soniya Gandhi, vice president of Medical Affairs and associated chief medial officer at Cedars-Sinai.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious-disease expert,  said over the weekend he doesn’t foresee additional lockdowns in the U.S. because he believes enough people are vaccinated to avoid a recurrence of last winter’s mammoth number. Many public health experts locally concur.

However, Fauci stopped short of saying enough people are inoculated to “crush the outbreak” at this point.

Fauci’s warning came days after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention changed course to recommend that even vaccinated people return to wearing masks indoors in parts of the U.S. where the delta variant is fueling infection surges. With the switch, federal health officials have cited studies showing vaccinated people can spread the virus to others.

L.A. County reinstated its indoor-mask mandate back on July 17.

Health officers in seven Bay Area counties Monday toughened their local recommendation to include indoor masking.

Health officers in Santa Clara, Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, San Francisco, San Mateo and Sonoma counties and the city of Berkeley joined in announcing the new local health orders for indoor use of face coverings.

“It is unfortunate that we have to do this at this point in the pandemic,” said Dr. George Han, Santa Clara County deputy health officer. “None of us wanted to be here. But the virus has changed. We are actually in broad agreement that everyone should be masking when they are indoors — it will find a way to get you.”

The rekindled mask mandates had become a flashpoint in renewed political tensions over how to respond to the resurgent virus. U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham, R- S.C., became the first senator to disclose a breakthrough infection after being vaccinated against the coronavirus, saying Monday he is “very glad” he received the vaccine, without which his current symptoms would be “far worse.”

In a statement issued Monday afternoon, the 66-year-old South Carolina Republican said he “started having flu-like symptoms Saturday night” and went to the doctor Monday morning.

The unvaccinated continue to bear the brunt of Delta variant, officials said. County figures show that as of July 27, among 4.9 million fully vaccinated residents, 10,656 tested positive for the virus, for a rate of 0.22%. That rate marks a 63% increase from a week ago, but still remains statistically low.

Among vaccinated people, only 410 were hospitalized, for a rate of 0.008%, and only 35 died, a rate of 0.0007%.

From Jan. 1 through June 30 of this year, 99.8% of the people who died from COVID-19 were unvaccinated or only partially vaccinated, Ferrer said.

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