Surge slows, but Labor Day may spur cases
by Mark McDermott
All three Beach Cities experienced their third straight week of declines in the number of new COVID-19 cases as September arrived, but medical experts were bracing for a possible new wave of cases following Labor Day weekend.
The Beach Cities registered 174 new cases the week ending September 4, compared to 228 the week prior, and 276 the week before that. Dr. William Kim, chief medical officer for the Beach Cities Health District, credited increased vaccinations rates.
“I think vaccinations are a big factor in the abatement and the leveling off of this Delta variant surge that we’ve seen,” Kim said. “But it can certainly pick up again.”
The three Beach Cities have an overall fully vaccinated rate over 80 percent among eligible residents, 12 and over. This far outpaces LA County and the rest of the nation. Still, Barbara Ferrer, director of the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health, expressed hope this week that an important corner was being turned.
“As we have implemented layers of protection, including universal masking indoors, and continue to increase overall vaccination coverage, we are seeing declines in L.A. County metrics,” Ferrer said. “Of the nearly 10.3 million L.A. County residents, including those who are not yet eligible for the vaccine, 56 percent are fully vaccinated. When we keep increasing vaccination coverage, while masking up and applying other layers of protection, we break the chain of transmission and protect the most vulnerable and the 1.3 million children not yet eligible for vaccine.”
A few concerns about a potential new increase in cases are on the horizon. Foremost is the arrival of new variants that are more contagious, like Delta, or are able to break through vaccination. Two of those mutated novel coronaviruses, the Mu and the Lambda variants, which have proved resistant to vaccines, have already been documented in LA County.
“The lambda variant has a bunch of deletions and a mutation that probably make it worse than the Delta virus,” Kim said.
The more immediate worry is that the many gatherings that occurred over Labor Day weekend will give rise to more cases.
“More people get together over holidays, and in close contact,” Kim said. “We’ll see what happens over the next two weeks. Certainly, with the Delta variant, the infections become symptomatic quicker, in two to five days, whereas the original Alpha variant was a 14-day run. So, within two weeks, we’re going to see a bump in cases, if we are going to see one.” ER
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