The number of coronavirus patients in the Greater Los Angeles area has now surpassed 1 million, which essentially means that one in 10 people in the county has contracted the virus at some point. Some scientists warn that the actual number of infections might even be three times higher. The more contagious UK strain is believed to be the main driver of the surge in infections at present. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) had earlier discovered the UK variant, named B.1.1.7, in 10 states, including California.
“The presence of the U.K. variant in Los Angeles County is troubling, as our healthcare system is already severely strained with more than 7,500 people currently hospitalized. Our community is bearing the brunt of the winter surge, experiencing huge numbers of cases, hospitalizations and deaths, five-times what we experienced over the summer. This more contagious variant makes it easier for infections to spread at worksites, at stores, and in our homes. We are in the midst of a public health emergency,” Barbara Ferrer, Director of Public Health, said in a statement.
Department of health advised people to work from home as much as possible and avoid crowds
For people who work outside, they need to make sure that their workplaces adhere to the mandatory safety protocols. She also implored the public to strictly follow hygiene protocols, like wiping surfaces that are frequently touched and washing hands. Los Angeles, which has the highest population among all counties in the United States, also has the highest number of infections and the highest death toll. However, its death rate of 1.4 percent is the lowest of the five most populous American counties. Los Angeles remains in state-imposed lockdown and has run out of ICU beds in most places.
Several mass vaccination centers have been opened. Dodger Stadium has been transformed into a vaccination center capable of inoculating up to 12,000 people per day. Popular sites like the Six Flags amusement park, Forum concert venue, and Pomona Fairplex will soon be converted into vaccination centers as well, with each site having the capacity to inoculate up to 4,000 people daily.
When looking at the state of California as a whole, vaccination attempts seem to be lagging, since only one-third of the doses made available to the state have been utilized. There are reports of people refusing to get vaccinated. For instance, almost 40 percent of the firefighters at the Los Angeles Fire Department (LAFD) did not turn up during a voluntary vaccination program.
Meanwhile, a new mutated strain of the CCP virus is spreading throughout California. Variant 452R has been found in Los Angeles and other counties like San Diego and Orange. The strain has been identified as being responsible for some large outbreaks in Santa Clara County. Dr. Sara Cody, a health officer at the county, noted that the presence of 452R is a red flag and must be investigated thoroughly given that it has been responsible for large outbreaks. Variant 452R is an additional mutation, different from the B.1.17 UK strain.
“It is common to identify variants of viruses like SARS-CoV-2, and we are working with our federal, local, and university partners to better understand this variant and how it might impact Californians… It’s too soon to know if this variant will spread more rapidly than others, but it certainly reinforces the need for all Californians to wear masks and reduce mixing with people outside their immediate households to help slow the spread of the virus,” Dr. Erica Pan, state epidemiologist for California Department of Public Health, said in a press release.