LOS ANGELES, CA — Los Angeles County health officials announced Monday that it was time to pick up the pace on vaccinating front-line health care workers amid the latest surge of coronavirus cases.
According to county Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer, one person dies in LA County from COVID-19 every eight minutes, on average. While this is happening, 10 people test positive every minute. The time has come to transform the Dodger Stadium testing site into a vaccination location by the end of this week and will close its testing site at VA Parking Lot 15.
“Next week we’re planning to open five large capacity vaccination sites,” Ferrer said.
Capacity at each site will vary. County sites will vaccinate an estimated 4,000 to 5,000 people per day. The locations are anticipated to open by next Tuesday. Officials are working on details, assigning staff now to try and make sure they have enough vaccine to do that. Dodger Stadium will be a city-run site.
The priority now is to vaccinate health care workers so they can continue fighting the virus and keep people safe, Ferrer said.
On Monday, Los Angeles County reported another 137 new deaths from COVID- 19, bringing the overall total in the county to 12,387.
The grim news arrives as the county pushes toward a milestone of 1 million cases since the pandemic hit the area about a year ago, with officials announcing they would halt using Curative tests at county testing sites, officials said. Instead, it will continue to use Fulgent tests.
"We stopped using the Curative tests because of the FDA advisory that went out," Dr. Christina Ghaly said. "We do believe that the Fulgent test provides accurate results, however, I must say, that any test has a risk of false negatives. There is no test that is 100% accurate."
The FDA advisory released on Jan. 4 indicated a risk of false results, particularly false positives, with the Curative SARS-Cov-2 test.
People should be careful about when they get the test, and they need to isolate or quarantine, even if there is a negative test, she said.
One local hospital this week has declared an internal disaster, primarily related to staffing, Ghaly said. The hospital name was not immediately released. And 11 hospitals within LA County are under review for oxygen levels from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
Hospitalizations have stabilized across the county, now slightly under 1,000 people hospitalized per day.
"The number of new patients coming in each day is somewhere around 700 and 850 patients per day," Ferrer said. "It’s been as high as 1,000 patients (per day) as well."
In addition to private partner sites, the five new vaccination sites will allow 500,000 health care workers to receive vaccinations by the end of January.
"We’re watching the data very carefully over the new few days," Ghaly said.
People who work outside, who have to go to work outside their homes, are asked to wear their masks inside to help prevent transmission among family members or vulnerable populations.
"I'm very grateful, as always, to our very dedicated front-line health care workers have continued every day to rise to the occasion, and they show up, day in and day out to care for the sick people who need acute level care services and life-saving care in our county's hospitals," Ghaly said.
"As of today, as Dr. Ferrer just reported, the hospitalizations are relatively constant across the county, just shy of 8,000," Ghaly said. "Across all of the hospitals in the county, there are being reported 650 available beds and 46 available ICU beds."
These total numbers represent all beds—adult specialty beds and pediatrics beds—that are reported by hospitals daily on what they have immediately available to take a patient, according to Ghaly.
DHS reported 550 COVID-19 positive patients as of Monday morning, she said. And that includes 143 people who are receiving ICU-level care.
"Just as all hospitals, we still have patients who are being boarded in the emergency departments, and we still have our clinical care teams caring for more patients than for what they would under normal circumstances," Ghaly said.
A town hall meeting about vaccinations and the next phase will be held on Jan. 19 and streamed live on Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube via LA Public Health.
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