Los Angeles County health officials are trying to handle the latest wave in coronavirus cases while urging people to get vaccinated. LA County Public Health confirmed Wednesday was the sixth consecutive day where new cases have topped 1,000 as the highly contagious Delta variant spreads.
At L.A. County USC Medical Center, also known as County/USC, in Boyle Heights more younger people are coming to the hospital feeling sick, but it is only the unvaccinated who show severe illness, according to Chief Medical Officer Dr. Brad Spellberg.
“Anybody who’s not vaccinated is going to get infected. That’s just the reality,” he said.
“People have made their choice. [The unvaccinated] will get infected. They may end up in the ICU. They may end up dying. It’s frustrating to watch.”
Spellberg described choosing not to get vaccinated as "baffling."
The Delta variant remains a concern nationwide. Former director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Dr. Tom Frieden told CNN the variant is 1,200 times more transmissible than some of the early variants. According to Frieden, vaccinations must increase.
“Unfortunately, we’re going to see increases as has already begun. First in cases, then in hospitalizations, and then in deaths. Those increases will be largest in those communities with lowest vaccination rates,” he said.
“Vaccination is our way to defeat Delta. That's why it’s so important to get more people vaccinated as soon as possible.”
Breakthrough cases of coronavirus among the vaccinated remain rare.
“We’ve had a couple of people come in with a cough, headache, just feeling like the flu, who have been vaccinated,” said Spellberg, but he stressed that those cases are very unusual.
According to the most recent figures from public health, 69 percent of LA county residents age 16 and older have received at least one dose of vaccine and 61 percent are fully vaccinated. Anyone age 12 and up can get vaccinated in the county for free.
The health agency is reminding LA county residents who are unvaccinated that they are required to wear a mask indoors. With the contagious Delta variant surging in LA County, the department is also urging vaccinated people to wear their masks as a precautionary measure.
“At the current number of daily new cases and with continued circulation of the more easily spread Delta variant of this virus, Public Health strongly urges everyone, as a proactive and precautionary measure, to wear masks when in any indoor setting or business where vaccination verification is not required and the vaccination status of others is unknown,” the department said in a statement.