While the variant does appear to be more highly transmissible, Ferrer said, it’s still unclear if the Delta strain causes more severe infection. But the ease with which it can be transmitted makes it a bigger risk for people who are not vaccinated against COVID-19, she said. L.A.’s County case rate was 1.4 per 100,000 residents, according to state data on Thursday. Its positivity rate was 0.4%. Ferrer referenced a study by health authorities in England that concluded fully vaccinated people are well protected against the strain, but people who have received only one dose of the vaccine are more susceptible to the Delta strain than other forms of the virus.
Of 1,472 samples tested by the county public health lab, only nine were found to be the Delta variant. Exact overall numbers of the “Delta” and related “Kappa” strains of the virus detected in the county were not immediately available. But they represent a small proportion of variants detected in 6,285 samples tested since late last year from county residents, either by the county’s public health lab or other facilities.
“We’re not yet seeing an appreciable increase in the number of Delta or Kappa variants among the samples sequenced from our residents,” Ferrer said. “And this is good news. And it’s probably in large part due to the very low transmission rates we currently have in L.A. County.” “Keeping this variant from spreading in our county requires continued effort to get immunizations to unvaccinated residents in our communities and to urge residents to keep taking measures to protect themselves and others,” she said during a briefing. “This is particularly important for those who are not vaccinated who can end up unknowingly being incubators for Delta variants and other variants of concern.”
“These grants demonstrate our steadfast commitment to keeping equity at the center of everything we do,” said Rochelle Walensky, director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “They are an important step in our unwavering efforts to strengthen our communities’ readiness for public health emergencies — and to helping everyone in America have equal opportunities for health.” Ferrer, meanwhile, said she remains confident the county is prepared for the economic reopening, even with the pace of vaccinations declining. But, she said, it would “greatly increase our confidence if we saw greater vaccine uptake across the county.” The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services announced on Thursday that it had awarded $27.2 million to Los Angeles County to help communities that have coronavirus-related health disparities and are at higher risk if they contract COVID-19. In all, the federal government distributed $2.25 billion nationwide as part of an initiative to help high-risk and underserved populations.
Vaccination statistics continue to show lags among Black and Latino communities, particularly among younger residents. And at the same time, those groups have the highest continuing rates of infection, hospitalization and death — rates that could potentially worsen once most health protocols are lifted across the state on Tuesday, June 15. “This increases our urgency to fully vaccinate as many people as possible,” Ferrer said.
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