By Jose Herrera
Signal Staff Writer
COVID-19 vaccination rates are slowly increasing throughout Los Angeles County, but public health officials continue to encourage immunizations against COVID-19 across all ages, races and ethnicities – especially among those without their first dose — as infection rates are two to three times higher among the unvaccinated.
Barbara Ferrer, the director of the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health, reported in Thursday’s public health media briefing an additional 28 deaths, with at least 22 of those people diagnosed with underlying health conditions. This brings the total number of deaths due to COVID-19 to 26,106 in the county.
“Our hearts and thoughts are with those of you who have lost a loved one at this time,” Ferrer said during Thursday’s online briefing.
In the Santa Clarita Valley, Henry Mayo Newhall Hospital reported two additional deaths related to COVID-19 on Wednesday and another death reported Thursday.
The most recent death brings the hospital’s total since the onset of the pandemic to 171, while the Santa Clarita Valley has had a total of 334 deaths, according to the most recent data from Public Health officials.
As of Thursday, 18 patients were hospitalized at HMNH with COVID-19, with 1,525 patients having been discharged throughout the course of the pandemic, according to hospital spokesman Patrick Moody.
Ferrer provided information regarding COVID-19 case and hospitalization rates by vaccination status, which were then sorted by race and ethnicity as well as age group.
“Across all racial and ethnic groups, infection rates among unvaccinated people were two to three times higher than among vaccinated people,” Ferrer said.
Ferrer also discussed Public Health officials’ ongoing efforts on tracking various mutations of COVID-19. However, she acknowledged that the Delta variant still comprises a large majority seen throughout the county.
“The highest number of outbreaks [the Delta variant] over the last few months have been in settings serving people experiencing homelessness,” Ferrer said. “Meanwhile, outbreaks in skilled nursing facilities, other long-term care facilities and health care settings where vaccination rates are relatively high, have remained relatively low.”
People 65 and older or those who are immunocompromised should consider the booster doses of Pfizer’s vaccine when they become available to county residents, Ferrer said. Individuals should focus on obtaining their first dose or completing their second dose, she added.
“Unvaccinated people are unfortunately more likely to get infected and be able to spread the virus through the air,” Ferrer said. “Most current hospitalizations and deaths are among the unvaccinated persons. The goal of these mandates is to reduce the risks and to keep everyone safe.”
Public Health officials also released the following updated COVID-19 statistics Wednesday:
Countywide COVID-19 cases reported in the past 24 hours: 1,457,672
Total COVID-19 cases in L.A. County: 1,380,780
New deaths related to COVID-19 reported in the past 24 hours: 31
Total COVID-19 deaths in L.A. County: 24,699
Hospitalizations countywide: 892, 29% are currently in the ICU
COVID-19 cases reported in the Santa Clarita Valley in the past 24 hours: 71, 42 of which came from the city of Santa Clarita
Total COVID-19 cases in the SCV as of Sept. 29: 35,689
Total COVID-19 deaths in the SCV as of Sept. 28: 333
Percentage of vaccinated people (at least one dose) in the city of Santa Clarita as of Sept. 23: 77.52%
Percentage of vaccinated people (at least one dose) in the SCV as of Sept. 23: 73.81%