L.A. County set to receive first COVID-19 vaccine doses by next week

Los Angeles County Seal.

Los Angeles County could receive its first batch of approximately 84,000 COVID-19 vaccine doses as early as next week, county Department of Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer told the Board of Supervisors during their regular meeting Tuesday.

“During the initial phases of vaccine allocation, the supply of vaccines is expected to be limited while the need will be high,” Ferrer said. “Because there’s not sufficient supply, vaccine eligibility will be determined by phases of prioritization that have been developed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention … as well as guidance that’s developed by the California Department of Public Health.”

That being said, initial priority is expected to be given to health care workers, with the county set to distribute the first wave of doses to acute-care hospitals, Ferrer added.

Ferrer went on to say that the county hopes to receive a second round of vaccines on Dec. 21, expanding priorities to include residents and staff at skilled nursing and long-term care facilities, with it being several months before the vaccine is widely available.

On the heels of this announcement, the Board of Supervisors unanimously approved a motion to identify funding needs for the administration of the vaccine, with a specific focus on distribution logistics and a messaging campaign.

The messaging campaign is set to be multilingual, raise awareness of the availability of the vaccine, as well as its safety, and identify ways residents can access the vaccine.

In addition, the Board of Supervisors approved a motion aimed at providing resources to Public Health and the Sheriff’s Department for the enforcement of COVID-19 “super-spreader” events.

Brought forth by Supervisors Kathryn Barger, whose 5th District includes the Santa Clarita Valley, and Hilda Solis, of the 1st District, the unanimously approved motion is set to identify resources to prevent super-spreader events that are in direct violation with the county’s public health order. 

The amended motion also includes the development of guidelines for what events are considered super-spreaders, as well as strategies for non-criminal violations and enforcement. 

“We know that these large parties that are taking place are problematic,” Barger said. “Many of the people that come there are not practicing social distancing or wearing masks, and in fact, are putting the community in jeopardy because … when they leave, they go home and they can give (COVID-19) to their loved ones.”

While there has been a distinct focus in regulating gatherings in public spaces, such as restaurants, parks and churches, there has been little focus in targeting “underground events,” according to the motion’s authors. 

This comes as L.A. County again reported a high number of COVID-19 cases Tuesday, as the number of people hospitalized with COVID-19 jumped past the 3,000 mark. 

The Board of Supervisors also unanimously approved another motion to support both the restaurant workforce and vulnerable communities. 

This motion is set to explore the availability of up to $10 million in unspent or future Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security, or CARES, Act funding, as well as any other available funds, to enter into a contract with World Central Kitchen, giving restaurants across the county the opportunity to provide meals to vulnerable communities, including those who lack financial resources or the ability to prepare their own meals.

World Central Kitchen has already provided more than 20 million meals through its “Restaurants for the People” program since the pandemic began, according to the motion.

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