Los Angeles County ends its COVID-19 emergency declaration in late March — the latest region to take this step amid stabilizing and improving pandemic conditions.
The move, unanimously approved Tuesday by the County Board of Supervisors, comes on the same day that Governor Gavin Newsom formally rescinded the three-year-old statewide emergency declaration.
Like their state counterparts, LA County officials praised the original March 2020 declaration of a local health emergency related to COVID-19 for providing the necessary authority and flexibility to respond to the outbreak.
But given the current circumstances — where vaccines and therapies abound and hospitalizations and death rates have fallen without the kind of aggressive interventions we saw earlier in the COVID-19 era — officials said such measures are no longer necessary.
“COVID is still among us, but it is no longer an emergency. And it’s time for us in LA County to end our emergency orders,” Supervisor Janice Hahn said Tuesday.
According to the movement to end the local statement, which Hahn prepared with Supervisor Kathryn Barger: “Each county department has relied in different ways on the existence of these emergency orders and orders from health officials to protect against COVID-19 and provide essential services. grant to protect the public in recent years. There is no doubt that these actions have saved lives and protected the health of the inhabitants of the province.”
But, the motion continued, “Over the past three years, the county has developed the tools to continue to mitigate the impact of COVID-19 without relying solely on the use of the extraordinary powers afforded by the various emergency proclamations and declarations. ”
According to the board-approved motion, the county’s local emergency declaration ends on March 31.
“The past few years, and especially that first year before we had the vaccines, have been the darkest years for many of us,” Hahn said. “And I really want to take this opportunity to thank everyone in LA County who helped us get across.”
The City of Los Angeles ended its own local COVID-19 state of emergency on Feb. 1. President Biden has also informed Congress that he will withdraw state of emergency and public health declarations at the national level on May 11.
LA County, by far the most populous in the country, was also one of the hardest hit parts of California during the pandemic. According to data collected by The Times, LA has recorded the third-highest cumulative number of cases per capita and the fifth-highest death rate among California’s 58 counties.
Officials have said a number of factors made LA County particularly vulnerable to COVID-19 — including the region’s poverty rate, overcrowded housing, pre-existing health conditions among residents and the large number of frontline workers who were at greater risk for the coronavirus on the job. exposure.
Such characteristics have often been cited by county health officials as a reason to move faster and further than Southern California neighbors in implementing measures to curb transmission.
LA County was the first in California to reinstate an indoor mask mandate in July 2021 in response to the Delta wave, and publicly considered restoring that order the following summer and fall during spikes fueled by the super-infectious family of Omicron subvariants .
Like the rest of the state, LA County has seen steady improvement in many of its pandemic stats since the winter break.
During the seven-day period ending Tuesday, LA County reported about 76 cases per week for every 100,000 residents.
That’s significantly lower than the most recent seasonal high of 272 cases per week for every 100,000 residents, set for the week ending Dec. 7.
It’s also close to the fall standstill of 60 cases per week for every 100,000 residents, but still higher than last spring’s low of 42 cases per week for every 100,000 residents.
A case rate of 100 or more is considered high. The pandemic record was 2,890 cases per week for every 100,000 residents, set for the week ending January 15, 2022, during the first Omicron peak.
As of Monday, 648 coronavirus-positive persons were hospitalized nationwide — about half of the most recent seasonal peak of 1,308, set on December 8. It is also much less than the previous winter peak of 4,814 on January 19, 2022; and 8,098, set to January 5, 2021.
LA County records 90 COVID-19 deaths per week during the seven-day period that ended Tuesday. That’s lower than the winter peak of 164 deaths in the week ending Jan. 13.
County Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer has said a more stable death rate would be about 35 COVID-19 deaths per week. Such a number may still be hard to accept – especially as fatalities are now largely preventable with vaccines and antiviral treatments – but would nonetheless represent stability and “indicate that our protections are really working extremely well.”
By comparison, the all-time peak of COVID-19 deaths was 1,690 for the week ending January 14, 2021. The following winter, the peak was 513 deaths for the week ending February 9, 2022.
Countywide, 81% of LA County residents have received at least one dose of COVID-19 vaccine, and 73% have completed at least their primary series. Approximately 17.5% of county residents age 5 and older have received an updated bivalent booster.
The province will do that on Wednesday permanent shutter the permanent vaccination sites at the Balboa Sports Complex, Commerce Senior Citizens Center and Norwalk Arts & Sports Complex, according to the Department of Health. You can find locations and opening hours of other vaccination providers at vaccinatelacounty.com.
COVID-19 is expected to remain a leading cause of death for some time to come, especially among people who are not up to date on their vaccinations and booster shots, and who are not receiving anti-COVID drugs like Paxlovid if they do get infected.
About 60,000 US residents have died of COVID-19 since October, an amount more than triple the 18,000 estimated U.S. flu deaths during the same period.
Another concern is lung COVID — a set of symptoms that can persist for months or years following an acute coronavirus infection that is expected to result in a significant cause of disability in the US for some time to come. A federal estimate, based on survey data, suggests that 28% of people who have had COVID-19 have had long-term COVID.
Most people with long-term COVID experience improvement in symptoms over a long period of time, Ferrer said, but some people experience long-term COVID as a disability that has lasted for years and has not ended.
“It is sobering to see how many people are still affected by the protracted COVID, almost three years into the pandemic,” she said.