Coronavirus case counts continue to drop in Los Angeles County, but as less than 50% of residents are fully vaccinated, officials stressed the importance of remaining vigilant over the Memorial Day weekend.
Public health officials on Sunday reported four COVID-19 deaths and 175 new virus cases in Los Angeles County. But officials urged residents to follow mask mandates and choose outdoor rather than indoor gatherings over the weekend.
“This disease has not gone away,” Gov. Gavin Newsom said last week. “It’s not taking Memorial Day weekend off.”
Officials with the county Department of Public Health cautioned that the figures released Sunday were likely an undercount because of delays in reporting over the weekend.
About 250 people in the county were hospitalized with COVID-19 on Sunday; during the surge in early January, 8,098 people were hospitalized. More than 24,000 people in the county have died of COVID-19.
About 54% of Californians have received one dose of COVID-19 vaccine, and roughly 44% of state residents have been fully vaccinated, according to a Times analysis.
“The best way to prepare for a safe holiday, either Memorial Day or July 4, is to be vaccinated,” Barbara Ferrer, Los Angeles County’s public health director, said last week.
However, the rate at which Californians are being vaccinated has slowed from a peak of about 400,000 doses per day to about 200,000. In an attempt to reverse this slide, Newsom announced a plan to distribute $116.5 million in incentives; anyone who gets vaccinated in the coming weeks will be entered in drawings with a chance to win money.
The state is scheduled to fully reopen its economy June 15.
Public health experts believe that 85% of Americans must be vaccinated for life to begin to resemble pre-pandemic conditions. About 50% of Americans have received at least one dose, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and about 41% of Americans are fully vaccinated. Nearly 300 million doses have been administered nationwide.
Times staff writers Luke Money and Emily Baumgaertner contributed reporting.