“The Delta variant is a game-changer,” said Los Angeles County Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer said on Thursday.
Ferrer announced that, as the Delta variant has become more prevalent in Los Angeles County, the percentage of infections happening among fully-vaccinated residents is also rising. In March, vaccinated people accounted for only 2% of all infections. In April that rose to 5%. In May, it was 11%. Stood at 20% in June. The rise coincides with the rise of the more transmissible Delta variant in the county, which now accounts for 84% of all variants recently identified.
But, said Ferrer, there are still very important reasons for getting vaccinated. “If you’re vaccinated, the chance of you ending up in the hospital, winding up in the ICU, the chance of you winding up intubated are much less.”
One reason for the increase, she noted, “The more people who are vaccinated, the more people who will end up testing positive.” Currently, about 53% of L.A. County residents are vaccinated, so the proportion of vaccinated people to the overall population when compared to the proportion they make up of those who are newly infected reflects Ferrer’s logic.
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The June 15 reopening may also have something to do with the spread among vaccinated people, she said. “When there’s more community transmission it effects…even those who have protection. If you’ve got more people around you who are infected, the more likely you are to get infected.”
“Those numbers will go up — including among vaccinated people,” she said, “until we get community transmission under control. Masking will help.”
Speaking of community transmission, Los Angeles continues to see steep increases with 2,767 new cases — up from 2,551 on Wednesday and 1,821 on Tuesday. The 7-day daily average case rate, which was 7.1 one week ago, has not virtually doubled to 12.9 per 100,000. That stat is considered one of the best indicators of the rise and fall of infections because it is both an average and not dependent on the number of tests administered.
One important nuance in that case rate rise, is that young people seem to be driving it. While 12.9 per 100,000 is certainly high overall, according to L.A. officials the case rate for Angelenos between the ages of 18-29 is an eye-popping 25 per 100,000. Certainly a predominant, more transmissible variant is a part of that. But the vaccination rate certainly plays into it. While 58% of residents in that age range are vaccinated, the number is 92% among those 65-79.
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