Coronavirus has claimed 28 more lives in Los Angeles County, officials reported on Wednesday, Aug. 11, the largest daily human toll in the region since May 1. Leaders continued to scramble for mandates that push the entire region and the state toward what has been a thus-far elusive herd immunity.

Wednesday’s deaths raised the total lost lives from the virus in the county to 24,833; the 3,498 new daily confirmed cases — most since early February — lifted that total to 1,335,332.

After a period of relative latency, the virus has flourished since early July, as the rapid scramble to be vaccinated died down and more people intermingled, experts say.

Over the past month, the county averaged around six daily deaths, according to county Public Health.

It was unclear if the higher daily toll was a sign that the increased number of cases was beginning to translate into more deaths — a pattern seen in past surges — or just an statistical/record-keeping blip. But if history is any indicator, officials will know soon if this is indeed a trend.

Local officials got help on Wednesday after California become the first state in the nation to require all teachers and school staff to get vaccinated or undergo weekly COVID-19 testing, as decreed by Gov. Gavin Newsom.

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The statewide vaccine mandate for K-12 educators comes as students return to campus from summer break amid growing concerns spurred by the swift spread of the highly contagious delta variant.

The Los Angeles City Council voted 13-0 on Wednesday, Aug. 11, to have the city attorney prepare an ordinance requiring people to show proof of at least partial vaccination against COVID-19 to enter most public indoor spaces in the city, including restaurants, bars, gyms, concert venues, movie theaters and even “retail establishments.”

Council President Nury Martinez and Councilman Mitch O’Farrell introduced the motion last Wednesday.

“COVID-19 could be eradicated if we had mass vaccinations across the country and across the world,” O’Farrell said before noting the United States’ history eradicating smallpox and mostly eradicating polio through vaccinations.

The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday opened the door to a similar mandate across the county, though it was not yet in effect.

Meanwhile, hospital beds continued to fill up. The state reported that 1,648 people were hospitalized with the virus on Wednesday, with 360 patients in intensive care beds.

Complicating matters is a new front in the battle against the disease: healthcare. The resurgence of the virus is now affecting hospital workers.

“With increased community transmission, were’ now seeing transmission rise again,” among healthcare workers, said Los Angeles County Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer in an update to the Board of Supervisors on Tuesday.

Between July 25 and July 31, 268 healthcare workers and first responders tested positive for the coronavirus, Ferrer said, adding that the county was aligning its own health order with the state’s recent requirements mandating healthcare worker testing, which was followed by an Aug. 5 state order to be fully vaccinated by Sept. 30, with some exemptions.

“We know healthcare workers are not uniformly vaccinated and while consistent use of respirators and other PPE reduces the likelihood of transmission within healthcare settings, these workers are still at risk of being infected in their communities when community transmission is high,” Ferrer said on Tuesday.

While the mandates have triggered some pushback, officials fear that without them as hospitals fill up with more patients, increasing numbers of hospital staffers who are out because they also have the virus will again begin to strain the medical care system for not just the virus but for non-virus forms of care.

And it stands, workers at hospitals were about half of the new cases, Ferrer said.

Under the state’s mandate, visitors to healthcare facilities, including visiting staff, are required to show proof of full vaccination or a negative test in the 72 hours before visitation. The order also mandates masking regardless of vaccination status and recommends a medical-grade mask or double masking be applied.

There were another 47 new infections in skilled nursing facilities.

For the week ending Aug. 1, 91 people tested positive for COVID-19 at skilled nursing facilities: 28 new cases among residents, and 63 new cases among staff.

In contrast, during the week ending July 25, there were 69 new cases among staff and residents at such facilities. That, too, outpaced an average of 20 new cases were reported in weeks prior.

Officials notes that 86% of residents and staff at skilled nursing facilities are fully vaccinated.

Staff writer Nikie Johnson, City News Service and The Associated Press contributed to this report.