Los Angeles Restaurants Temporarily Close As COVID Case Counts Rise

Health

Grub Street 22 July, 2021 - 09:17am 27 views

Since California reopened on June 15, the state’s test positivity rate has increased from .08 percent to 3 percent, though, as CalMatters notes, the case counts are far below the numbers during the winter surge. Nationally, COVID case counts, hospitalizations, and deaths have all increased this month in what the CDC is describing as a “pandemic of the unvaccinated.” Nearly every single COVID death in recent months (in excess of 99 percent), The New Yorker noted last week, has been among the unvaccinated.

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LA County Sees 20-Fold Increase Of COVID-19 Cases In A Month

CBS Los Angeles 22 July, 2021 - 03:00pm

COVID-19 cases continues to surge across Southern California

FOX 11 Los Angeles 22 July, 2021 - 03:00pm

Los Angeles County brings back mask requirements

AP Archive 22 July, 2021 - 03:00pm

L.A. County sees big surge in coronavirus: 2,551 new cases in one day

Los Angeles Times 21 July, 2021 - 07:10pm

Public health officials reported 2,551 new infections Wednesday — the highest figure since early March, when the county was shaking off the last vestiges of the fall-and-winter wave.

Wednesday’s report continues a troubling pattern of increased transmission that emerged after the state’s June 15 reopening and coincided with increased circulation of the hypercontagious Delta variant.

“Because of the more infectious Delta variant and the intermingling of unmasked individuals where vaccination status is unknown, unfortunately, we are seeing a surge in cases in L.A. County that looks somewhat similar to last summer,” Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer said. “An important difference this summer is that, with millions of people vaccinated, we are hopeful we will avoid similar increases in deaths.”

Officials have said many of the new infections being confirmed, both in L.A. County and statewide, are among the unvaccinated.

Over the week of July 7 to 14, the average case rate among unvaccinated Californians was 13 per 100,000, according to the state Department of Public Health. The comparable figure among those who had been vaccinated was 2 per 100,000.

But even with roughly 53% of L.A. County fully vaccinated, millions of residents remain vulnerable to the latest resurgence of COVID-19.

The number of COVID-19 hospitalizations has also risen rapidly. On Tuesday, 645 coronavirus-positive patients were receiving that level of care countywide — nearly triple the number seen a month ago.

Daily COVID-19 death totals remain relatively low — at an average of about 4 in L.A. County and 23 statewide, according to data compiled by The Times.

Despite the alarming increases, L.A. County has yet to come close to the harrowing heights seen during the winter surge, when an average of about 15,000 new cases were being reported every day and more than 8,000 COVID-19 patients were hospitalized.

But given the presence of the Delta variant, which is believed to be twice as transmissible as the conventional coronavirus strains, officials have already taken steps to try to rein in transmission — reinstituting a requirement for all residents to wear masks while in indoor public settings, regardless of their vaccination status.

“By adding a mask requirement for everyone indoors, the risk for transmission of the virus will be reduced, and with increases in the number of people getting vaccinated, we should be able to get back to slowing the spread,” Ferrer said in a statement Wednesday.

Officials maintain that those who have been vaccinated have strong protection against the coronavirus, including the Delta variant.

One-third of California counties are now urging even fully vaccinated people to wear masks indoors as coronavirus cases continue to rise.

L.A. County is far from the only corner of California that is contending with COVID-19’s latest punch.

Over the past week, the state has reported an average of nearly 5,000 new coronavirus cases a day, more than quadruple the number from a month ago, according to data compiled by The Times.

In late June, the state was recording about 6,000 new cases a week, according to a Times analysis. At the peak of the pandemic, the state was recording more than 300,000 new coronavirus cases over a seven-day period.

In light of the increases, one-third of California counties are now urging even fully vaccinated people to wear masks indoors. But L.A. County and the cities of Long Beach and Pasadena — which have their own independent health departments — are the only areas that have said they will mandate it.

Just this week, Santa Barbara, Monterey, Napa, San Benito, Santa Cruz, Ventura, Lake and San Joaquin counties joined the list of those asking even fully vaccinated individuals to wear face coverings as a precaution while inside places including grocery stores, movie theaters and retail outlets.

Statewide, the number of coronavirus-positive patients in the hospital more than doubled in the last month, and the rate has climbed further in the last two weeks.

Officials in most of the Bay Area, as well as Sacramento, Yolo and Fresno counties, also now recommend that people wear masks indoors.

Officials hope that masking up in those areas will slow the spread — but it will take weeks to know for sure. Should those measures prove insufficient, it’s possible more restrictions could become necessary.

At this point, the California Department of Public Health still advises that fully vaccinated residents are allowed to go without face coverings nearly everywhere, though unvaccinated people must still mask up in public indoor spaces.

While reports of fully vaccinated people occasionally getting the coronavirus may sound alarming, the shots dramatically reduce severe disease and death.

Even without action from the state, about 60% of Californians now live in a county that either recommends or requires indoor masking for everyone.

Gov. Gavin Newsom has been asked several times this week about the possibility of issuing new state masking guidance or mandates and has consistently responded that he doesn’t believe that step will be necessary — provided sufficient numbers of Californians get their shots.

“The answer to the Delta variant is rather simple: Get vaccinated. We don’t have to have masking if we all got vaccinated,” he told reporters Tuesday.

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Luke Money is a Metro reporter covering breaking news at the Los Angeles Times. He previously was a reporter and assistant city editor for the Daily Pilot, a Times Community News publication in Orange County, and before that wrote for the Santa Clarita Valley Signal. He earned his bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Arizona.

COVID risk-taking increases as people become desensitized to pandemic

Daily Mail 21 July, 2021 - 04:24pm

By Natasha Anderson For Dailymail.Com

A new study reveals that Americans are becoming desensitized to the COVID-19 pandemic as they take more risks and ignore safety precautions - even as the Delta variant marches across the country.   

The data shows that regardless of the rising cumulative number of cases and deaths, people overall are showing less interest in COVID-related news and pandemic safety measures.

In the study, released this week by the University of California-Davis, researchers evaluated how Twitter users reacted to pandemic news articles to determine how the public's attitude toward the global health crisis has evolved since last year. 

The study comes as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced that the ultra-contagious Indian 'Delta' variant now makes up 83 percent of all new cases in the U.S. and is responsible for the rise in infections in nearly all 50 states. 

UC-Davis Communications doctoral student Hannah Stevens said that while people initially reacted to the pandemic with extreme anxiety, citing measures such as panic buying, extreme social distancing and quarantining, they have now started partaking in riskier social behaviors - like ignoring masking and distancing suggestions.

A new study revealed that society is becoming desensitized to the pandemic as vaccines are accessible - even as the Delta variant of COVID-19 continues to spread. (File photo of a woman in Detroit getting a vaccine Wednesday)

For the study, the researchers analyzed Twitter posts for the entire year of 2020 - only in English. It sifted out a sample of more than 1.5 million tweets that contained key terms, like 'COVID'. Then it sifted further to get a sample of tweets where users had linked to a news article. A computer program then dissected those tweets and determined how anxious a person was when tweeting.

Stevens argues that experts need to understand why people became desensitized to pandemic news so that leaders can communicate more effectively in future crises.

'COVID-19 has made an indelible mark on history, and now it's time to consider what went wrong so we can do better in communicating more effectively during future health crises, and even now, as the delta variant becomes more widespread,' said Stevens. 

'First and foremost, we need to understand how and why scary health news lost impact over time, despite the rapidly increasing death toll. If another health crisis occurred today, or COVID-19 takes another turn for the worse, it is essential for public health officials to consider that they are communicating to a desensitized public.'

Stevens and her team of researchers used computer programs to analyze social media users' language and anxiety levels over the first 11 months of the pandemic and then compared that data to the overall death toll in the US.

According to the study, the data showed that as time progressed the interest in pandemic news and concern over COVID-19 declined. 

The study used computer programs to analyze social media users' language and anxiety levels over throughout the pandemic and then compared that data to the overall death toll in the US. The flow chart above demonstrates how sample tweets were selected

Results of the study, as demonstrated in the graph above, revealed that as time progressed 'tweet anxiety' surrounding the pandemic decreased. The first panel shows the first stage of the pandemic and the death count associated with that time frame; it shows anxiety as measured by the study spiking higher. The next three frames show anxiety dipping even as death tolls climbed

'The results of this study suggest the increased threat conveyed in COVID-19 news has, however, diminished public anxiety, despite an increase in COVID-19–related deaths,' researchers conclude.

They also expressed concern that even though vaccines are readily available, health risks, such as the Delta variant, remain ever prevalent. 

Researchers argued that officials need to find a way 're-sensitize the public and motivate them to take active roles in COVID-19–related responses'.

'If another health crisis occurred today, or COVID-19 takes another turn for the worse, it is essential for public health officials to consider that they are communicating to a desensitized public,' Stevens explained. 

'Testing the effectiveness of various health-risk communication strategies could quite possibly mean the difference between life and death in the future.' 

Now, researchers are concerned that society is too desensitized to the pandemic while the Delta variant is on the rise

The CDC says, as depicted above, the Delta variant makes up 83 percent of all new cases and is responsible for the rise in infections in nearly all 50 states

Data published earlier this week also revealed that the one-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine proved to be less effective against the Delta variant than the two-dose Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna vaccines.

In response, some health officers are encouraging local and state leaders to re-impose mask mandates regardless of vaccination status.

Last Friday health experts in California's Bay Area, as well as those in Los Angeles County, moved to reimpose mask mandates because of the rising Delta variant.

The Washington Post reports that leaders in Arkansas and Missouri, which continue to be coronavirus hot spots, are also discussing reinstating mask mandates. 

'Universal masking indoors is a way of taking care of each other while we get more people vaccinated,' Los Angeles County Department of Public Health Barbara Ferrer told the newspaper.

'It really doesn't disrupt any business practices. It allows us to remain fully open — while we acknowledge that the delta variant [is] spreading like wildfire here.' 

In response, some health officers are encouraging local and state leaders to re-impose mask mandates regardless of vaccination status

However, as evidenced by recent studies demonstrating desensitization to the pandemic, health officials fear most Americans will not be receptive to an increase in safety precautions (such as the mask wearing pictured above)

Meanwhile, current and former surgeons generals are warning that Americans should brace themselves for the return of mask-wearing. 

'We need to prepare the public for what could be, again, a return to some of these mitigation measures,' former surgeon general Jerome Adams said.

However, as evidenced by recent studies demonstrating desensitization to the pandemic, health officials fear most Americans will not be receptive to an increase in safety precautions.

'I think people will be disappointed, folks were having some hope and seeing the light at the end of the tunnel — and this would be a suggestion that we're taking a step back,' Marcus Plescia, chief medical officer at the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials, told the Washington Post.

Former Louisiana health commissioner Rebekah Gee, who says she favors targeted mask requirements instead of those that requiring face coverings in all aspects of society, resounded these same concerns.

'The point now is how do you save lives and get people on the team of science, the team of truth?' she questioned.

More than half of Californians are being urged to wear masks indoors - regardless of vaccination status - as the Indian 'Delta' Covid variant continues to wreak havoc across the U.S. 

At least 17 counties in the Golden State - home to 56 percent of residents - are asking people to wear face coverings in places such as grocery stores and movie theaters, reported The Los Angeles Times.

Just one of those counties, Los Angeles County, is requiring masks to be worn in these public settings. 

Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot warned on Tuesday that she might do the same as infections continue to rise in the city. 

It comes as the U.S. recorded 42,706 new cases on Tuesday with a seven-day rolling average of 37,056, which is a 244 percent increase from the 10,771 average recorded three weeks ago.

Every state aside from Iowa has seen infections rise or hold steady in the last week, according to a DailyMail.com analysis of Johns Hopkins data.

Additionally, 298 COVID-19 deaths were recorded on Tuesday with a seven-day rolling average of 274. 

Fatalities, which are a lagging indicator, have not dramatically risen but instead have slightly increased by 6.6 percent from the average of 257 recorded three weeks prior. 

Health officials say this is because people now are protected by vaccines, though in states that have less vaccine uptake - such as Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri and Tennessee - hospitals are starting to fill up. 

The surge has been blamed on the spread of the highly infectious Delta variant, which now makes up 83.2 percent of all new infections, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). 

Health officials say nearly all new COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations are among unvaccinated individuals.

'Don't be deceived that: "I got this far and I am okay,"' Dr Gregory Poland, an internist and head of the Vaccine Research Group at the Mayo Clinic, told CBS Minnesota.

'This is a very different variant. It will find you. This virus will find everybody who is not immune.'

In light of the rising cases, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security announced that land borders with Canada and Mexico will remain closed for non-essential travel until at least August 21.

At least 17 counties in California - making up more than half of the state's residents - are urging residents to wear masks indoors amid the spread of the Indian 'Delta' variant. Pictured: People wear face coverings as they pass through Union Station in Los Angeles, California, July 2021

The U.S. recorded 42,706 new cases on Tuesday with a seven-day rolling average of 37,056, which is a 244% from the 10,771 average recorded three weeks ago

Deaths have continued to remain relatively flat with 29 recorded on Tuesday and a seven-day rolling average of 274, 6.6% from the average of 257 recorded three weeks prior

Every single state - aside from Iowa - and the District of Coluimbia are reporting increases of COVID-19 cases this week

Last week, Los Angeles County became the first in the country to require all residents to wear mask regardless of whether or not they'd been fully immunized.

The county is reporting about 13.5 cases per 100,000 and the test positivity rate has risen from 0.4 percent on June 15, when the state reopened, to 4.8 percent as of Tuesday  

But at least 17 counties are similarly asking residents to mask up following their own increases.

For example, Santa Barbara County is reporting an average of 32 new COVID-19 cases per day, according to health department data.

While this is a low number on its own, it is four times higher than the average of eight cases per day that were being recorded in late June.

Meanwhile, Napa Valley County is recording about 12 cases per day compared to late June when just five cases per day were being recorded, according to local health officials.

'All community members should take action to protect themselves and others against this potentially deadly virus,' said Ventura County Health Officer Dr Robert Levin in a statement on Monday. 

'While vaccines remain our best tool against COVID-19, masking in indoor and crowded outdoor settings will help us curb the spread of this latest wave of infection.'

California overall has seen cases rise to an average of 5,063 per day, a 160 percent increase from 1,946 just two weeks ago, a DailyMail.com analysis of Johns Hopkins data found.

Over the the same time period, COVID-19 hospitalizations increased from 1,506 to 2,447, a 62 percent jump, according to state data, the highest point since at least March.

Since the Delta variant was first discovered in April, it has become the dominant strain, accounting for 56.8 percent of all cases, according to the CDC.

Meanwhile, Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot said she would implement a similar order to Los Angeles County if the city doesn't get the virus under control.

California has seen cases rise to an average of 5,063 per day, a 160% increase from 1,946 just two weeks ago, leading many counties to ask that masks be required

Over the the same time period, COVID-19 hospitalizations increased from 1,506 to 2,447, a 62%jump, according to state data, the highest point since at least March.

On Tuesday, Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot suggested she may masks mandatory like Los Angeles County as cases increase 164% in a month from 34 per day to 90 per day and increase in in Illinois to 890 per day compared to 222 per day in June

Currently, Chicago is recording a seven-day average of 90 cases per day, an 164 percent increase from 34 cases reported last month.

In Illinois, cases are up to an average of 890 per day compared to 222 per day at this time last month, according to a DailyMail.com analysis of Johns Hopkins data. 

CDC data show the Delta variant makes up 43.1 percent of all new infections in Illinois.

'If we allow the virus to linger here in Chicago, we will likely see further mutations, some of which our current vaccines may not be able to protect against, and have to reinforce some of the restrictions that infamously defined 2020 and part of 2021,' Lightfoot said at a press conference on Tuesday.

She also noted that 90 percent of people hospitalized in Chicago are unvaccinated. 

'This is a reality we can avoid, and it's preventable,' Lightfoot said and urged residents to get their shots.

Missouri continues to be one of the nation's COVID-19 epicenters with average cases rising by 38 percent from 1,245 per day to 1,728 per day in the last two weeks, according to DailyMail.com's analysis.

The state's vaccination rate is behind the national average with about 46 percent of residents having received at least one dose and 40 percent fully vaccinated.

Comparatively, 56.1 percent of the U.S. has received at least one dose and 48.6 percent are fully vaccinated. 

The surge is due to the Delta variant, which has taken hold in the southwestern part of the state, where rates of at least one vaccine dose in some counties are as low as 15 percent.

In Greene County, where Springfield is located, the health department reported 251 COVID-19 patients in county hospitals on Monday, according to the St Louis Post-Dispatch.

Average COVID-19 cases in Missouri have risen by 38% from 1,245 per day to 1,728 per day in the last two weeks

In Arkansas, COVID-19 cases have jumped from an average of 697 per day two weeks ago to 1,107 per day on Tuesday, an increase of 58%

Louisiana has seen average coronavirus cases soar 94% from 714 per to 1,387 per day over the last 14 days

This marks the first time that the figure has surpassed the record set last winter of 237 patients, which was reported on December 1.

Doctors say many of their patients are in their 20s, 30s and 40s in comparison with previous surges and nearly all are unvaccinated.

'There's so many COVID patients. They're on so many different units,' Dr Rachel Keech, who was recently deployed to Mercy Hospital Springfield to help treat patients, told the Post-Dispatch. 'They're everywhere.' 

In nearby Arkansas, cases have risen from an average of 697 per day two weeks ago to 1,106 per day on Tuesday, a 58 percent increase, the DailyMail.com analysis found.

Arkansas has one of the worst vaccination rates in the country with only 35.4 percent of residents fully vaccinated, CDC data show.

According to the state's department of health, 766 residents are hospitalized with the virus, an increase of 85 from Friday, and 124 are on ventilators, an increase of five. 

The University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, the largest hospital in the state, told CBS News that all 23 COVID-19 beds are full with 56 patients in total, some of whom have to be housed in other wings. 

'To put it into perspective, our team is in the fourth quarter right now, or maybe even double overtime,' Dr Cam Patterson, chancellor of the medical center, told the network.

'This is not the first quarter for this team. They're tired. It's tough.' 

In nearby Louisiana, cases have risen by 94 percent from 714 per to 1,387 per day over the last 14 days.  

Louisiana has one of the lowest COVID-19 vaccination rates of the country with about 36 percent fully vaccinated, CDC data show.

Hospitals across the state are seeing a surge of patients with 711 hospitalized with the virus as of Monday, according to the Department of Health, which is the highest number seen since mid-February.  

Dr Catherine O'Neal, chief medical officer of Our Lady of the Lake Regional Medical Center in Baton Rouge, the state's biggest hospital, told The Advocate that 30 new patients were admitted on Saturday night. 

The hospital had to open an entirely new floor for COVID-19 patients, most of whom were under age 65 and not fully vaccinated.

'I want to be clear after seeing what I've seen the past two weeks,' O'Neal said at a news conference on Friday. 

'We only have two choices: we are either going to get vaccinated and end the pandemic. Or we are going to accept death. A lot of it, this surge, and another surge, and possibly another variant.'

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Opinion | The pandemic has changed course again. The Biden administration urgently needs to do the same.

The Washington Post 20 July, 2021 - 12:29pm

The United States is on a very different trajectory now than it was back in May, when the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued guidance that fully vaccinated people no longer needed to wear masks. Even then, when cases were trending downward, many of us in public health were alarmed that the CDC’s recommendations would herald the precipitous and premature end of indoor mask mandates.

Compared with two weeks ago, daily coronavirus infections in the United States have climbed 145 percent. The most contagious form of SARS-CoV-2 yet, the delta variant, accounts for the majority of new infections. Vaccinated people are still well-protected from becoming severely ill, but reports abound of breakthrough infections. Because the CDC has inexplicably stopped tracking mild infections among the vaccinated, however, we don’t know how frequently these occur. In addition, because those infected with the delta variant appear to have a viral load that’s 1,000 times higher than that of those infected with the original strains, it’s an open question as to whether vaccinated people who contract the variant can infect their unvaccinated close contacts.

It’s time for the CDC to issue new guidance that takes into account these emerging concerns. It can reiterate that vaccination is safe and effective by stating that the vaccinated are safe around others who are also fully vaccinated. In settings where everyone is known to have immunity, no additional restrictions are needed.

However, if vaccinated individuals are around those who remain unvaccinated, the unvaccinated could pose a risk to the vaccinated, particularly those who live at home with young children or immunocompromised family members. So the CDC needs to state, as it should have in May, that unless there is a way to distinguish between the vaccinated and unvaccinated, indoor mask requirements should be reinstated. Los Angeles County has issued such a mandate. The federal government should urge other jurisdictions to follow suit.

This is particularly urgent in areas with escalating outbreaks. Covid-19 hospitalizations in southwest Missouri have already surpassed the winter peak there. Multiple hospitals in Arkansas are full, with doctors treating younger, and sicker, patients, including tweens. In these low-vaccination areas, the pre-vaccine tools of masks, distancing and avoiding indoor gatherings need to be deployed again to stem the surge.

Unfortunately, the areas with the lowest vaccination rates are also the ones least likely to implement mask mandates. Still, leadership from the Biden administration can make a difference. There are many businesses and local jurisdictions that look to the federal government for direction. Those that dropped mask mandates after the CDC’s change in tone could be convinced to reinstitute them.

The federal government could also use this opportunity to — finally — incentivize vaccination. It could say that areas with high vaccine uptake do not need to reimplement mask mandates, and mandate vaccination on planes and trains and in federal buildings. And it can finally get behind a vaccine verification system that would allow restaurants, gyms, workplaces and universities to create safe, maskless environments where everyone is vaccinated.

Lack of strong federal leadership impedes the ability of local jurisdictions to implement policies that protect their residents. In Los Angeles County, the sheriff stated that he would not enforce the new mask mandate, calling the order “not backed by science” because it conflicted with the CDC guidelines. This is a clear demonstration of how local health departments rely on the political cover provided by the CDC to enact unpopular but necessary actions.

A more cautious approach from the CDC would also realign the entity with leading health-care organizations. On Monday, the American Academy of Pediatrics issued new recommendations for schools that emphasized universal masking for everyone 2 and older. Notably, and in direct contradiction to the CDC, it stated that even vaccinated individuals should be masked in the classroom. These pediatricians recognize the reality on the ground: Without proof of vaccination, the unvaccinated have been behaving as if they were vaccinated, which has disincentivized them from getting inoculated and contributed to the surges we are now seeing.

The Biden administration has done many things right during the pandemic, but it made a grave error with its premature return to normalcy. It must hit reset and issue new guidance that addresses the escalating infections, waning interest in vaccination and unknowns of the delta variant. If it doesn’t, we could well be on our way to another national surge — and one that was entirely foreseen and entirely preventable.

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