Los Angeles County public health officials on Sunday recorded 546 new cases of the coronavirus and 10 related deaths amid signs viral transmission was continuing to decrease.
Both numbers are an undercount because there are reporting delays on weekends, officials said. Still, they welcomed the encouraging trend of declining case rates, hospitalizations and deaths.
There were 470 COVID-19 patients in L.A. County hospitals as of Saturday, a drop of nearly 28% from two weeks before, when there were 647, officials said.
Statewide, there were 1,799 patients hospitalized with COVID-19, a decline of about 22% from two weeks before.
California has also observed a dramatic slowing of the average number of deaths being reported daily. In recent days, California has reported an average of 105 to 120 COVID-19 deaths a day — the lowest such number reported since the autumn-and-winter wave began. At its worst, in late January, California was recording as many as 562 deaths a day, on average, over a seven-day period.
On Saturday, the state reached the latest milestone when the COVID-19 death toll exceeded 60,000, according to a Times tally of fatalities reported by county.
The death toll represents roughly 10.7% of COVID-19 deaths nationwide. California is home to about 12% of Americans.
The pandemic’s effect statewide has varied by region. Of California’s most populous regions, Los Angeles County has fared the worst. For every 100,000 residents, L.A. County has recorded 232 deaths; if L.A. County were a state, it would have the seventh-highest death rate.
The San Francisco Bay Area has fared far better; for every 100,000 residents, the Bay Area has recorded 79 deaths. If the nine-county Bay Area were a state, it would have the 45th-highest cumulative COVID-19 death rate in the nation of the 50 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico.
The signs of progress came as the state prepared to dramatically expand the pool of people eligible to be vaccinated against the virus. The state will on Thursday formally open vaccinations to all residents 16 and older. Currently, the statewide criteria say that only people 50 and older, those with underlying health conditions, and workers in certain specified essential job sectors are eligible for the vaccine.
Many local jurisdictions have moved faster than the state.
The city of Los Angeles opened vaccine appointments to everyone 16 and older on Saturday. People who are seeking shots at city-run vaccination sites must provide valid identification and be a resident of Los Angeles County. City-run sites are open from Tuesday through Saturday.
Los Angeles County, overall, expects to receive about 323,000 doses of vaccine this week, a decrease of about 74,000 doses from last week due to reduced supply of Johnson & Johnson vaccine, public health officials said Sunday. Seventy percent of the doses are slated for sites in vulnerable communities, and 57% are needed for second-dose appointments, according to authorities.
Federal partners also send vaccine directly to some sites in the county, including pharmacies, health clinics and FEMA sites. When accounting for those doses, L.A. County vaccination sites were able to dole out about 700,000 doses last week, and hope to administer slightly over 500,000 this week, according to the public health department.
Meanwhile, Orange County health officials on Sunday reported 196 new coronavirus cases and eight additional deaths.