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South African and Brazilian COVID variants appear in LA County

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Los Angeles, California — Los Angeles County confirmed the first case of a South African and Brazilian variant of the coronavirus on Wednesday. Two “variants of concern” emerged as the decline in new COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations appear to be flat.

Even if new variants are identified, scientists have reported promising findings that the vaccine appears to be effective against the West Coast variants that caused the winter surge. A study published in the New England Journal of Medicine concluded that the vaccine was effective against strains that had been dominant in Los Angeles County for months.

The vaccine may have kept the number of new cases relatively small, as Angelenos succeeded in delaying the outbreak. And every month, more and more people are vaccinated. The sharp decline in the number of cases (82% in February and 42% in March) has helped the county so far avoid the spring surge affecting other parts of the country. The county’s director of public health said Wednesday.

“All our indicators show less community infections, but the rate of hospitalization and case reductions is slowing,” Los Angeles County Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer said Wednesday. It was.

But she said Wednesday, “our case count has stopped declining completely.”

Although the decline in daily hospitalizations has slowed, the number of deaths from daily COVID-19 continues to decline significantly, providing peace of mind to the overwhelming medical system during the winter.

It is not yet known whether the slowdown in the number of cases and the pace of improvement in hospitalization is the cause of concern.

Coronavirus cases are increasing elsewhere in the country. Timing is disappointing, as spring break travelers to Los Angeles are at risk of developing infections, including variants that are considered more contagious and more deadly. On Wednesday, Feller identified three cases, the first case in the county of variants first detected in South Africa and the P.1 variant in Brazil. Both have been labeled as “variants of concern” by federal health authorities because of their ease of human-to-human spread.

Ferer warned that both variants are likely to be in circulation in the community. Given the limited amount of tests the county performs to identify mutants, the discovery of new strains in such small test samples is “more undetected and undiagnosed cases. It means “likely”.

Feller said the increase in the number of variants and the slowdown in new cases and hospitalizations, despite more relaxed business restrictions, should help warn residents to stay vigilant. Said that. She said people should continue to practice infection control measures and be vaccinated if possible.

“Within three weeks of transition to Red Tier, we haven’t seen any increase in case rates, test positive rates, or hospitalization rates,” she said. “This is only possible because we are working together with each other, so keep yourself, your friends, and your family safe.”

On Tuesday, the state released updated county-by-county COVID statistics, ending the week-long declining trend with an average daily incidence of new cases in Los Angeles County stable at 3.1 per 100,000. did.

Maintaining a tax rate of 3.1 slowed the county’s march to the less restrictive yellow layer of the state blueprint for a safer economy. The county advanced to the Orange layer last week, allowing capacity restrictions to be relaxed and more business units to reopen, but will not be able to reach the Yellow layer for at least three weeks, and perhaps more.

“The case rate is reasonably low, and the positive test rate is less than 2%, so I think the community infection has been significantly reduced,” Feller said. “I think the problem for all of us is that we can reduce it more. We should reduce it more. We still have the right amount of transparency. That’s why we’re in the orange layer. Yellow This means that the case rate has dropped to less than 2 per 100,000 people, minimizing community transmissions.

“Yes, we hope our case rate will go down even further. We have a lot of resumptions, a lot of trips, and a fair amount of gatherings, so we’re really working hard for that to happen. You have to keep trying, think during my vacation, “she said. “And hopefully people are doing this with all the safety measures in place so we can continue on this path and reduce infections. Obviously, we have our rate. You can lower it. There is nothing impossible about this. “

Feller announced another 53 COVID-19 deaths on Wednesday, health officials at Long Beach added one, Pasadena reported three, bringing the county-wide total to 23,344 since the outbreak of the pandemic. I increased it.

She also reported 479 new infections, 28 in Long Beach, 3 in Pasadena, and 1,223,205 counties across the pandemic.

According to state statistics, as of Wednesday, 572 people were hospitalized for COVID in Los Angeles County, up from 552 on Tuesday. There were 136 people in the intensive care unit, down from 138 on Tuesday.

City News Service and patch staff Paige Austin contributed to this report.

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