County sees drop in COVID cases in health care workers

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Wave Wire Services

LOS ANGELES — Southland hospitals continued to see drops in the number of COVID-positive patients Sept. 7, while infections among health care workers in Los Angeles County have also been trending downward after two months of increases over the summer.

According to state figures, there were 1,433 patients in COVID-19 in county hospitals, a drop of 30 from a day earlier. There were 415 people being treated in intensive care, up slightly from 412 the day before.

The county Department of Public Health reported another nine fatalities due to COVID, raising the cumulative death toll from throughout the pandemic to 25,465.

Another 1,060 cases were confirmed, for a pandemic total of 1,421,616.

The numbers of new deaths and infections are likely low due to typical reporting delays from the weekend and Labor Day.

County health officials also reported that infections among health care workers — which rose in June and July — have been on the decline over the past few weeks. According to the county, there were 534 new COVID cases among health care workers during the week that ended Aug. 7. But during the week that ended Sept. 2, just 291 health care worker cases were reported — 178 of them among fully vaccinated workers.

All health-care workers in the state must be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 by Sept. 30.

According to the county, 44,441 health care workers and first responders have tested positive for COVID during the pandemic, and 284 have died. Most of those deaths occurred between July 2020 and February 2021, according to the Department of Public Health.

Reflecting the effectiveness of the COVID-19 vaccines, deaths among health care workers are low,” county Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer said in a statement. “As we have implemented layers of protection, including universal masking indoors, and continue to increase overall vaccination coverage, we are seeing declines in L.A. County metrics.

“Of the nearly 10.3 million L.A. County residents, including those who are not yet eligible for the vaccine, 56% are fully vaccinated. When we keep increasing vaccination coverage, while masking up and applying other layers of protection, we break the chain of transmission and protect the most vulnerable and the 1.3 million children not yet eligible for vaccine.”

Last week, health officials confirmed the presence of what’s known as the Mu variant of the virus, which is described as highly contagious and potentially able to evade vaccines. According to the health department, 167 instances of the Mu variant have been detected in the county, all between June 19 and Aug. 21, with most of them found during July.

The Mu variant — officially labeled a “variant of interest” by the World Health Organization — was first discovered in Colombia in January, and has since been detected in 39 countries.

Some initial reviews of the variant have indicated it has the potential to evade currently available vaccines. But in a statement last week, county health officials said “more studies are needed to determine whether Mu variant is more contagious, more deadly or more resistant to vaccine and treatments than other COVID-19 strains.”

The Delta variant remains the dominant COVID-19 strain circulating in the county, with Ferrer saying it represents nearly all of the cases that undergo the sequencing needed to identify specific viral mutations. Delta is labeled a “variant of concern” by the World Health Organization.

Ferrer noted that the county has begun to see decreases in the rate of new infections. According to Ferrer, the county’s cumulative seven-day rate of new cases was 159 per 100,000 residents last week, a 16% drop from the previous week and down 22% from the peak of 204 per 100,000 residents in mid-August.

The county’s rolling seven-day average daily rate of people testing positive for the virus fell to 2.7% Sept. 7, down from 3.3% Sept. 3.

“As we have implemented layers of protection … and continue to increase overall vaccination coverage, we are seeing declines in L.A. County metrics.”

— County Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer

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