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With a rise in COVID-19 cases, Los Angeles County moved into the CDC High Community Level this week, prompting Department of Public Health officials to ask all residents to implement sensible health protections including masking indoors and getting vaccinated and boosted.
With the COVID-19 case rate reaching 258 cases per 100,000 people this week, and almost 15 hospital admissions per 100,000 people, the CDC High Community Level designation reflects both high transmission and increased stress on hospitals. The stress on the healthcare system is compounded by high rates of influenza and other respiratory illnesses.
Data show that people 65 and older and people living in areas with the highest poverty rate are more likely to be hospitalized and die from COVID-19 in L.A. County, regardless of vaccination status. Many factors, including inadequate access to health-affirming resources and racism, contribute to these gaps. While COVID-19 vaccines are not an equalizer, the rates of hospitalization and deaths are far higher for those unvaccinated, serving as a stark reminder of how powerful the vaccines continue to be.
One of the most effective ways to reduce COVID-19 transmission, along with transmission of other respiratory illnesses like flu and RSV, is to wear well-fitted, high-filtration masks indoors. Everyone 2 and older is asked to wear a mask in indoor public spaces, such as transit, retail, event venues, schools and worksites when around others.
Protecting against severe illness is equally important and the new, bivalent booster and therapeutics provide protection against severe illness and death from COVID-19. There are also vaccines and anti-viral medications to prevent severe illness from influenza. Vaccines, boosters and therapeutics are readily available at Public Health sites, pharmacies, and other locations across the county.
In addition, simple actions such as frequent handwashing and staying home when you are sick can help to further limit transmission. The same precautions that help limit the spread of COVID-19 will also provide protection against RSV and flu.
Seniors and residents who can’t easily leave their home may contact the Public Health call center to arrange for at-home vaccinations and oral therapeutics by calling (833)540-0473. Residents can also visit VaccinateLA County.com to find nearby vaccination sites, request a mobile vaccination team for your worksite, community event, or an in-home visit if you or someone you know is homebound.
“When you put on your mask for these few weeks during this surge, it is about the people of L.A. County,” said Dr. Barbara Ferrer, Director of Public Health. “It is about every individual, every visitor, our healthcare workers, essential workers and other people who serve. In addition to vaccination, it is one of the easiest things everyone can do right now.”
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