L.A. County reports 521 new coronavirus cases, 56 deaths

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Alex Wigglesworth
·2 min read
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VERNON, CA - MARCH 17: Emergency Medical Technician Lenny Fernandez, Medical Assistant Rodnay Moore and Physician Assistant-Certified Calvin Davis, left to right, prepare doses of the Pfizer COVID vaccine in theVernon City van as the city of Vernon Health Department staff used the city's new mobile health unit clinic to administer COVID-19 vaccinations to nearly 250 essential food processing workers at Rose & Shore, Inc., a major, locally-based prepared foods products producer that serves supermarkets, schools, restaurants, airlines and others. The vaccinations were administered onsite, at the company's 70,000 square foot facility in Vernon. The City of Vernon has partnered with Stacy Medical Center to vaccinate 11,000 Vernon- based workers performing essential jobs in high-density work environments such as large-scale food processing, cold storage and food warehousing facilities. Vernon City Administrator Carlos R. Fandino, Jr. said, "The City of Vernon has taken a pro-active stance to protect the community from COVID-19. Vernon's Health Department has mobilized to deliver life-saving COVID vaccines to essential workers who put their lives on the line producing food and everyday items. Vernon's businesses are pleased that the city now has the mobile health clinic to help protect their essential employees against the potentially deadly coronavirus and mitigate the virus's spread at their processing plants. Administering COVID-19 vaccines to their workers while they're on- the-job ensures accessibility for a population that is largely underserved and the hardest hit by the pandemic." "Our mobile delivery method is extremely efficient. Vernon's Health Department has inoculated over 3,000 essential workers in its initial thirteen days of operation, with another 1,000 expected this week as the mobile vaccine unit visits additional plants daily. We are vaccinating as quickly as state and county public health officials provide us with vaccines." Mr. Fandino said. Rose & Shore, Inc on Wednesday, March 17, 2021 in Vernon, CA. (Al Seib / Los Angeles Times).
Healthcare workers, from left, Lenny Fernandez, Rodnay Moore and Calvin Davis prepare doses of the COVID-19 vaccine Wednesday to administer to nearly 250 food processing workers in Vernon. (Al Seib / Los Angeles Times)

Los Angeles County public health authorities on Saturday reported 521 new cases of the coronavirus and 56 related deaths. They said young people continue to drive community transmission of the virus, while older people account for most of the fatalities.

Of the cases reported Saturday, 70% were people under 50, and of the deaths, 93% were people over 50, the county public health department said in a news release.

“Many younger people are out socializing with non-household members, raising concerns that asymptomatic young people are unknowingly helping to spread the virus to more vulnerable people,” Barbara Ferrer, the L.A. County health director, said in a statement. “Though we are making good progress in our vaccination efforts, we are entering a potentially perilous time if people let their guard down.”

California's initially sluggish vaccine rollout has been ramping up in recent days, although the state still lags behind many others in the percentage of residents inoculated, and local officials continue to report that demand far outstrips supply.

Meanwhile, more transmissible, potentially deadlier variants of the coronavirus continue to circulate. Experts are keeping a close eye on metrics to see if the variants are driving another wave of infections, as has been reported in Italy.

But case rates and hospitalizations in Southern California have continued to trend downward. There were 792 COVID-19 patients in L.A. County hospitals Friday, a decline of roughly 33% from two weeks before, when there were 1,176.

Orange County has reported a similar trend. The county Saturday recorded 118 new cases and 26 deaths. There were 197 COVID-19 patients in its hospitals Friday, a drop of nearly 39% from two weeks before.

Both Los Angeles and Orange counties recently moved into the less-restrictive red tier of the state’s reopening blueprint, meaning restaurants, gyms, movie theaters and museums were able to reopen for indoor operations with capacity limits, some schools were cleared to welcome back students in person, and people were allowed to resume gathering indoors with members of up to three other households, as long as they wear masks and socially distance.

Public health officials stress that although certain activities are allowed, it doesn’t mean they carry no risk, and it's still important to follow sanitary guidelines, including masking, distancing and frequent handwashing.

This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.