Wave Wire Services
LOS ANGELES — Los Angeles County’s latest COVID-19 numbers Aug. 16 show more than 2,400 new infections — a figure that could be low due to weekend reporting lags — as well as five additional deaths and a recent tripling of weekly cases among pregnant women.
The data came amid reports that the Biden administration is poised to recommend booster shots for most vaccinated Americans eight months after they became fully vaccinated — a process that reportedly would begin in mid- to late September.
L.A. County already is offering third doses of Pfizer and Moderna vaccines for people with severely compromised immune systems.
The Los Angeles Department of Public Health reported 2,426 new cases, raising the overall total from throughout the pandemic to 1,352,791. The five new deaths lifted the county’s overall death toll to 24,905.
There were 1,679 people hospitalized in the county with COVID-19, including 402 in intensive care, according to state figures. That was up from 1,653 overall patients and 377 ICU patients Aug. 15.
Cases have been reported at an average rate of more than 3,000 cases a day for about the past week, and a rise in case numbers can be expected in the coming weeks with increased testing at schools and businesses, according to county health officials.
The county also warned of a recent tripling of weekly cases among pregnant women, reporting that 27 cases were reported during the week that ended June 27, while 81 were reported during the week ending July 25.
“Unfortunately, pregnant women are at high risk for serious health problems if they become infected with COVID-19,” county Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer said in a statement.
“Getting vaccinated is the best way to reduce the risks of COVID-19 infection and complications for both you and your baby. If you are pregnant or a new mom, we encourage you to get vaccinated as soon as you can and you can get vaccinated at any time during pregnancy. Studies continue to show the vaccines are safe for expecting and new moms and are very effective against COVID-19 and the Delta variant.”
According to the county, there were 11,264 confirmed COVID cases among pregnant women as of Aug. 10, the vast majority of them Latina. Twelve women who tested positive have died.
County figures show that the vast majority of people hospitalized with COVID are not vaccinated. During the month of July, vaccinated residents represented just 13% of people hospitalized with the virus.
According to the health department, infection rates show that unvaccinated people are almost four times more likely to get infected with COVID-19. The case rate for unvaccinated individuals is 243 cases per 100,000 people, while the case rate for fully vaccinated people is 66 cases per 100,000 people.
Vaccinated people are about 14 times less likely to be hospitalized than their unvaccinated or partially vaccinated counterparts, health officials said.
With the newly provided blessing of the federal government, L.A. County health officials began offering third doses of Pfizer and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines for people with severely compromised immune systems.
Among those qualifying for the booster shots are organ transplant recipients, people undergoing cancer treatment, HIV patients and people on select “immunosuppressive medications.”
The health department urged people to consult their doctors to confirm their eligibility for the third shot, which should be administered at least 28 days following the second dose.
Meanwhile, various reports Aug. 16 said the Biden administration is on the verge of announcing that most vaccinated people will need booster shots.
The Washington Post, for one, reported that federal health and science officials “are coalescing around the view that people will need the boosters eight months after being fully vaccinated.” The newspaper said administration of the boosters would begin in mid- or late September. Particulars of the plan were still being developed, according to reports.
Currently in Los Angeles County, the third doses are being offered at vaccination sites offering the Pfizer and Moderna shots. People looking for the shots will be able to simply “self-attest” that they have a qualifying medical condition.
The booster shots received final approval last week from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.