LA County avoids corporate coronavirus vaccine mandate – for now – Daily News

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On Tuesday, August 31, Los Angeles County officials signaled that they would not be asking customers and staff at restaurants, card rooms and other businesses for vaccines. Supervisors decided to wait and watch, hoping that the first signs of a possible leveling off of the delta coronavirus variant continue.

“I’m not quite ready to take this step,” said supervisor Janice Hahn, whose motion two weeks ago to investigate the feasibility of a vaccine-proof requirement prompted a department report. health department that has supported such a mandate in certain situations.

“Let’s look at some more data,” Hahn said, “and decide if this is the right step for us.”

Han’s colleagues on the supervisory board seemed to agree, as board chair Hilda Solis suggested the county had already put in place enough measures to encourage vaccinations to sustain patience for a while.

Other local municipalities have adopted similar rules, including Los Angeles and San Francisco, but they have all faced questions about how to enforce, when and how to treat customers who might be exempt. Some business owners were also not thrilled about having to become the performer of the requirement.

In the report, public health officials established criteria for companies that would be subject to such a requirement. They understand:

–Interior public places where people are allowed to remove their masks for an extended period when they are in the presence of other people;

–Interior businesses where people are likely to be engaged in intense physical exertion; and

– Indoor entertainment venues where large groups of people congregate for long periods of time, often without significant distance, and can remove their masks to eat or drink.

“We’ve heard a lot from all of our partners that if we’re going in this direction, please make sure it’s countywide,” County Health Director Barbara Ferrer said, acknowledging that he could have negative trade effects accompanying such rules. But she also said that “it immediately reduces the risk when implemented in these high-risk settings, and it helps us slow down transmission.”

Tired of bickering over past trade restrictions, the board seemed unwilling to endorse pushing Ferrer to implement the requirement.

Hahn suggested that a takeaway from the report, which was developed in consultation with several local business groups, was that there would be as many problems implementing the requirement as there would be benefits. .

“I certainly don’t want to go back to the point where we’re going to have to shut down our businesses again, or limit capacity… or not let our restaurants run… I’m not interested in…” Hahn said. .

Updating schools

With most local schools now open, public health officials want to examine four weeks of data on transmission and outbreaks of the virus.

The county has so far resisted changing its quarantine policy for schools to bring it more in line with that of the state.

Ferrer promised Tuesday that if the data, after four weeks of review, confirmed low transmission between close school contacts, Public Health would change its stricter policy as early as the week of September 13.

“I wish it was simpler, but because the virus has changed we all need to be flexible to adapt to a more dangerous virus,” Ferrer said.

So far, the data the county has on the transmission of the virus has been “sobering,” officials said, indicating 5,321 new cases in LA County schools between Aug. 15 and Aug. 27, with 531 school sites. reporting three or more cases, Ferrer reported.

There have been seven outbreaks – involving 66 students and three staff – including five in elementary schools. Ferrer said that before last week, schools were experiencing about three outbreaks per week, a trend she expected the virus to continue.

More than 40% of outbreaks were associated with school sports, where close, unmasked contact with symptomatic people is possible, Ferrer said.

Increase in vaccinations

On a day when the state announced that 80% of residents had received at least one dose of COVID-19 vaccine, Ferrer said there had been improvements in vaccination rates at all levels locally, but black residents and Latinos continue to lag behind.

As of August 22, only 50 percent of black residents in the county had received at least one dose, with the lowest percentages among those aged 12 to 29. Latino / A residents have a rate of 59%, compared to 69% of White residents and 79% of Asians.

“The subgroups where we see lower vaccination rates continue to be fully concentrated among black and Latin residents who have already suffered so much during this pandemic,” said county public health director Barbara Ferrer, to the supervisory board. “And while we are grateful to see the small increases in immunization rates across all subgroups, there is this persistent gap between black residents and other ethnic and racial groups that persists even though the numbers of these subgroups remain. gradually increases. “

While the increase in vaccination rates is a positive sign, “we must see much faster gains to reverse the disproportion of cases, hospitalizations and deaths where are so closely related … to vaccination status,” he said. she declared.

Of all eligible county residents aged 12 and older, 65% are fully immunized, while 74% have received at least one dose. Ferrer noted that 91% to 92% of people who receive a first dose also receive their second dose on time, bodes well for an improvement in the county’s vaccination rate in the coming weeks.

Gov. Gavin Newsom announced Tuesday in Oakland that 80% of all eligible California residents have received at least one dose, placing it among the top 10 states nationally. Newsom also noted the need for continued efforts to reach black and Latin American communities and low-income residents, in order to improve the overall immunization rate.

Ferrer, meanwhile, noted that the county was bracing for the potential of booster shots, a “gigantic task ahead of us,” she said.

“We’re working hard to make sure the infrastructure is there,” Ferrer said, foreshadowing what appears to be eventual mass distribution in LA County. Ferer said she hoped this infrastructure was already integrated with the some 800 vaccination sites dotted around the vast county.

“But if that ends up not being the case, we also have our plans to expand the county and the city’s capacity to remake these big vaccination sites,” she said. “I think our infrastructure is much more sophisticated now, but we need to act quickly when these booster shots are recommended.”

33 additional deaths

Authorities on Tuesday reported another day of 30 or more deaths from the virus. The 33 newly confirmed deaths added to what is now 25,284 in the county.

The total number of cases was not yet available on Tuesday afternoon.

Ferrer pointed to some early signs of a flattening of the new number of cases and the rate of hospitalizations. 1,699 people were in hospital as of Tuesday, according to the state scorecard, the first time that number has fallen below 1,700 since mid-August.

But Ferrer lamented lingering concerns about the lack of vaccinations among the population, and noted that deaths from the virus increased 6% over the past week to an average of 18 deaths per day over seven days.

“This virus continues to cause serious and potentially fatal illnesses in many infected people, and our losses are all the more tragic as almost all of them are preventable with extremely safe and widely available vaccines,” said Ferrer. noted.


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