Two months ago, Gov. Gavin Newsom declared that California would be able to reopen its economy on June 15. Statewide, increasing vaccination rates and low hospitalization numbers seem to guarantee his prediction.
But even with the prospect of lifted restrictions less than two weeks away, COVID-19 continues to spread in Los Angeles County with 15 new deaths and 285 new cases of the virus reported Saturday.
Although life seems far different for many Angelenos than it did a few months ago, the weekly average of deaths and new cases prove that the virus remains a threat, especially for the elderly and infirm.
In May, an average of 13 people died and 283 new cases of COVID-19 were reported each week. Those numbers are significantly lower than in January, when the county was reporting more than 15,000 cases and more than 200 deaths daily.
But the toll is still significant.
“With every death we report each day there is a grief and sorrow for the family and friends who must now cope with the loss of a loved one; to those we send our deepest condolences and wish you healing,” said Barbara Ferrer, L.A. County’s public health director, in a statement.
Los Angeles County’s director of public health wonders whether she could have better protected people living in the county’s poorest neighborhoods, which bore the brunt of the pandemic.
The deaths are occurring among primarily unvaccinated individuals, said Ferrer, who emphasized the need for each person in the county 12 years and older to get vaccinated.
To assist the effort, mobile vaccination teams have been deployed at 188 neighborhood sites for people who are unable to get to the established sites located in pharmacies, clinics, community sites and hospitals throughout the county.
Each mobile clinic can vaccinate 200 people a day.
Mobile teams have set up at the Antelope Valley Swap Meet and the Lancaster Flea Market, as well as the Palmdale Metrolink Station and the Del Amo Metro Station in Compton. Working with employers and community organizations, the teams are also at markets, schools, churches and senior centers.
The county is also holding a vaccination sweepstakes. Those who are eligible have an opportunity to win season tickets to the 2021-22 home games for either the L.A. Football Club soccer team or the L.A. Dodgers.
On Friday, Newsom drew winners of the first cash prizes in California’s COVID-19 vaccine lottery. Nearly $117 million will be paid out by June 15 in prizes that range from $50 gift cards to cash awards of $1.5 million.
The incentive program is part of an effort to boost immunizations. Although more than 70% of the adult population in California has received at least one dose, vaccination rates have slowed and total immunizations are still below levels that experts say are necessary to achieve herd immunity.