LA County, Long Beach report another rise in COVID-19 cases

A relentless surge of COVID-19 cases continued Thursday in Los Angeles County as another 2,700 cases were reported, with the percentage of infections occurring among fully vaccinated residents steadily rising.

In fact, during the month of June, 20% of all newly reported COVID infections in the county occurred among people who had been fully vaccinated.

That was up from 11% in May and 5% in April. But Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer said the increase is normal given the continued rise in the number of people who are getting fully vaccinated.

She also stressed that fully vaccinated people who become infected generally have extremely mild cases—a benefit the vaccines have always promised.

“Very few of them ended up hospitalized, and even smaller numbers ended up passing away,” Ferrer said. “So yes, if you are fully vaccinated you have a lot of protection, which is what the vaccines have always been best at—protecting people from serious illness and death. And these vaccines, even with the ‘delta’ variant, are holding up really well.”

She said the fact that people who are fully vaccinated are still getting infected should not be viewed as the shots being ineffective, and should not be used as an excuse for people to avoid getting the shots.

“While seat belts don’t prevent every bad thing that can happen during a car accident, they do provide excellent protection, so much so that we all use them routinely,” she said.

She noted that when the vaccination program began, the primary benefit cited was their ability to prevent people from ending up hospitalized or dying from the virus. With the county seeing rising infections—the vast majority among those who are unvaccinated— infections are expected to occur among some who have gotten the shots. And she noted that absent the vaccines, infection numbers would be much higher.

According to the county, among roughly 4.85 million fully vaccinated residents from Jan. 19 through Tuesday, 6,520 tested positive for the virus, for a rate of 0.13%. That’s up from a rate of 0.09% last week.

Of the fully vaccinated people in that period who tested positive, only 287 were hospitalized, for a rate of 0.0059% of the vaccinated population, up from 0.0045% last week. There were 30 vaccinated people who died, a rate of 0.0006%.

The most recent figures provided by the county Thursday show that 5.3 million of the county’s roughly 10.3 million residents are fully vaccinated, a rate of roughly 52%. About 1.3 million county residents are ineligible for shots because they are under age 12.

The county reported 2,767 new COVID infections on Thursday, the highest daily number since February. The new cases lifted the county’s cumulative total since the pandemic began to 1,276,137. It was the 14th straight day of daily case numbers that topped 1,000.

Long Beach on Thursday reported 138 new cases. Daily new cases per 100,000 residents and seven-day positivity rate increased again to 16.6 and 8.3%, respectively.

In the county,  the average daily rate of people testing positive for the virus rose slightly to 5.26% on Thursday, compared to 5.2% a day earlier. The rate one month ago was 0.7%.

After being stable at 37 for five days, hospitalizations in Long Beach-area facilities jumped to 47, its highest point since mid-March.

Another 13 deaths were reported by the county, raising the overall death toll to 24,607.  Long Beach reported one new COVID-19 death, for a total of 950 deaths.

Health officials have pointed squarely to the highly infectious delta strain of COVID-19 for the recent surge in cases locally and across the country. The variant, first detected in India, has increased in prevalence statewide, and it now represents the vast majority of confirmed variants in the county.

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