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Good L.A. virus news continues, but hot spots remain

by Steven Felschundneff | steven@claremont-courier.com

Every week there seems to be more good news about the local coronavirus outbreak and Wednesday was no exception as the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health reported just nine deaths and 120 new COVID-19 cases.

Here in Claremont there have been just 11 new infections in the last two weeks, and the county has not reported a death here in over a month. Institutional outbreaks have also vanished.

But the virus has not disappeared, even if it seems that way as people begin to venture out and even get together in crowded places such as the county’s popular beaches over the Memorial Day holiday.

The Los Angeles Times reported on Wednesday that California’s rural northern counties lag far behind Southern California and the Bay Area in vaccination rates and continue to have relatively high case rates and are at risk for new outbreaks. Four counties, Del Norte, Shasta, Yuba and Stanislaus remain in the red tier of the state’s reopening framework, even as the state is set to fully reopen in less that two weeks.

Lassen County has the lowest vaccination rate at 22 percent followed by Tehama at 27 percent. By contrast, in Los Angeles County 63.8 percent of people 16 and older and 85 percent of those 65 and over have received at least one shot.

As of May 28, a total of 19,915, or 61.5 percent of Claremont residents have received at least one dose of the coronavirus vaccine. And 6,220, or 90.1 percent of people over 65 have been vaccinated.

This trend is troubling to health officials not only because of the risk of illness and even death for the unvaccinated, but also because the more the virus spreads, the more variants will emerge, some of which might be resistant to the existing vaccine. A recent CDC report suggested that certain pockets of the population with low vaccination rates could see surges in infection similar to those of late 2020.

On the bright side, the CDC’s announcement on May 13 that fully vaccinated people can forego masks and social distancing appear to have bolstered interest in some people to get the shot.

According to data from the New York Times, the daily vaccinations had been steadily falling since April 14, but just one day after the CDC mask announcement there was a spike in interest on the nation’s vaccine portal and the daily rate of new inoculations has been flat for the last two weeks.

To date, Public Health identified 1,244,254 cumulative cases of COVID-19 across all areas of L.A. County and a total of 24,354 deaths. There are 254 people with COVID-19 currently hospitalized and 19 percent of whom are in the ICU. 

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