In an effort to mitigate the spread of the highly-infectious Delta variant of COVID-19, Los Angeles County announced it will update its health order and will require anyone attending a large outdoor event with more than 10,000 people to wear a face covering.
The order went into effect on Aug. 19 and arrives just before the football season, affecting UCLA’s home games at the Rose Bowl, USC’s at the Coliseum and upcoming concerts, including those at the Hollywood Bowl.
“As the highly infectious Delta variant continues to spread, wearing masks — regardless of vaccination status — indoors and in crowded settings, including at outdoor mega events, reduces the risk of being infected with and transmitting COVID-19,” the L.A. County Department of Public Health said in a statement on Aug. 17.
Many states, including California, have been suffering a fourth surge of the coronavirus as the summer winds down. Los Angeles County averaged 3,441 new cases per day from Aug. 10-17 after having not surpassed triple digits in June.
However, there are signs of improvement this week with the positivity rate down to 3.5% on Tuesday compared to 4.6% the previous week. The county’s five-day streak of reporting at least 3,300 new cases came down on Monday to 2,426. The number of cases increased the following day to 2,907, but the spike could also be attributed to the weekend lag, officials said. L.A. Public Health reported 4,046 new coronavirus cases on Wednesday afternoon but the positivity rate remained the same.
La Cañada Flintridge has averaged nearly five new cases per day in August and has one of the highest vaccination rates in L.A. County with 80.8% of residents 12 and older inoculated.
“Emerging data affirms that fully vaccinated people are well protected from severe infections with Delta variants,” the Department of Public Health said. “Although fully vaccinated people are less likely to become infected than unvaccinated people are, they can become infected and transmit infection to others.”
USC Verdugo Hills Hospital had 12 COVID-19 patients as of Tuesday, and Patricia Sung, the hospital’s manager of infection prevention and control, said the county’s vaccination rate and mask mandate will help keep people out of the hospital and prevent infection as children and educators return to school for
“As our children resume
in-person learning we have a few things in our favor,” Sung said. “Sixty-five percent of the eligible population in California is fully vaccinated, a recently issued health officer order requires school staff be vaccinated and masking is required in schools. While we may see an increase in cases of COVID-19 infection among school age children, I don’t foresee the same increases we’ve observed in other states with much lower vaccination rates and no masking requirements.”
A new study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggests that the effectiveness from Pfizer and Moderna vaccines wane months after receiving the second dose, and President Joe Biden’s administration is recommending and readying booster shots for some Americans beginning Sept. 20 pending an approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
During a White House briefing on Tuesday, Dr. Rochelle Walensky, director of the CDC, expressed concern over the Delta variant and how it’s affecting even those who are vaccinated.
“As we make decisions about boosters, though, we also have to look at vaccine effectiveness in the specific context of the Delta variant,” she said. “ … Data we’re seeing from our international colleagues, specifically — and especially Israel — have demonstrated a worsening of infections amongst vaccinated people over time.
“To be clear, our top priority is to save lives and prevent severe infections. The data [published Tuesday] and next week demonstrate the vaccine effectiveness against SARS-CoV-2 infection is waning. And even though our vaccines are currently working well to prevent hospitalizations, we are seeing concerning evidence of waning vaccine effectiveness over time and against the Delta variant.”
Before finishing her presentation, Walensky assured White House officials and the public that vaccines continue to offer the best protection against the disease.
“Getting vaccinated can keep you out of the hospital; getting vaccinated can save your life,” she said.