Nearly 50 percent of Americans have received at least one vaccine shot, and though the pace has slowed, the share is still growing by about two percentage points per week, a federal official said Sunday, May 23. Local trends are headed in the same positive direction — among Los Angeles residents aged 16 and over, 61% have received at least one dose, and 47% are now considered fully vaccinated, according to public health officials.

“I think by June, we’re probably going to be at one infection per a hundred thousand people per day, which is a very low level,” Dr. Scott Gottlieb, former head of the Food and Drug Administration, said Sunday on the CBS show, “Face the Nation.”

The United States is adding fewer than 30,000 cases a day for the first time since June of last year, and deaths are as low as they’ve been since last summer. Nearly everywhere, the U.S. outlook is improving.

Meanwhile, L.A. County reported 175 new cases of COVID-19 and five additional deaths on Sunday, though officials said the relatively low numbers may reflect delays in weekend reporting.

Sunday’s numbers brought L.A. County’s totals to 1,238,781 cases and 24,171 fatalities since the pandemic began, according to the county Department of Public Health.

According to state figures, there were 319 people hospitalized in the county with COVID-19 as of Sunday, down from 339 on Saturday. There were 72 people in intensive care, down from 85 on Saturday.

As of May 16, more than 9.1 million doses of vaccine have been administered in the county, and more than 5 million residents have received at least one dose. She said among residents aged 16 and over, 61% have received at least one dose, and 47% are now considered fully vaccinated.

The numbers are better among older residents, with 84% of residents aged 65 and over receiving at least one dose, and 70% being fully vaccinated.

There continue to be racial and ethnic disparities. Among the population aged 16-64, just 34% of Black residents have received at least one dose, compared to 57% of whites and 67% of Asians. The rate for Latinx residents is 42%.

The county continues to operate large-scale vaccination sites, but the city of Los Angeles announced Friday it plans to phase out such large sites and switch to fully mobile vaccination efforts by Aug. 1. County officials have also been stepping up mobile vaccine clinics, targeting those communities with below-average vaccination rates.

Local officials offered incentives for people to get vaccinated. Anyone 18 and older who gets a first dose at a county- or city-run vaccination site through Sunday was entered for a chance to win Lakers season tickets. People who got vaccinated at a Saturday clinic at the Pantages Theatre in Hollywood were entered for a chance to win a pair of tickets to see the hit musical “Hamilton.”

The county will follow the state’s lead on June 15 and lift the majority of COVID-19 restrictions.

The state’s Health and Human Services secretary announced Friday that California is on track to do away with its Blueprint for a Safer Economy as planned on June 15, meaning all capacity and social distancing requirements will be eliminated and most vaccinated people will be able to shed their face masks. Some restrictions will remain, with attendance at large indoor events still requiring proof of vaccination or a negative COVID test.

Los Angeles County and other regional health agencies are permitted to enact stricter health measures than the state, but the county Department of Public Health issued a statement saying it will align with the California regulations.

“I, like everyone in California, look forward to the changes that will come on June 15,” Ferrer said in a statement. “Together, we all worked hard and continue to work hard to keep numbers of cases, hospitalizations and deaths low in L.A. County. I can’t emphasize enough how the vaccine has allowed us to get to a place where we can safely do the things that we loved to do before the pandemic.

“If you have been putting off getting vaccinated, I ask that you not delay any longer and get vaccinated,” she said. “The COVID-19 infection, hospitalizations and deaths that are still occurring are almost all among people not fully vaccinated. This is preventable.”

City News Service and the New York Times contributed to this report. 



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