Los Angeles County will finalize its COVID-19 emergency declaration at the end of March, the most recent region to take that step amid stabilizing and improving pandemic conditions.
The measure, approved unanimously Tuesday by the county Board of Supervisors, arrives the same day as the governor. Gavin Newsom has formally rescinded the three-year state emergency declaration.
Like their state counterparts, Los Angeles County officials praised the original March 2020 proclamation of a COVID-19-related local health emergency for providing the necessary authority and flexibility to respond to the outbreak.
But given current conditions, where vaccines and therapy are plentiful and hospitalization and death rates have plummeted without the kind of aggressive interventions seen before in the COVID-19 era, officials said such measures are no longer They are necessary.
“COVID is still with us, but it is no longer an emergency. And it’s time for us in Los Angeles County to end our emergency orders,” Supervisor Janice Hahn said Tuesday.
According the movement to rescind the local statement, which Hahn co-authored with Supervisor Kathryn Barger, “All county departments have relied on the existence of these emergency orders and health officer orders in various ways to protect themselves.” against COVID-19 and provide essential services to protect the public over the past several years. It is indisputable that these actions saved lives and protected the health of county residents.”
But, the motion continued, “Over the past three years, the County has developed the tools to continue to mitigate the impacts of COVID-19 without relying solely on the use of the extraordinary powers granted by the various proclamations and emergency declarations.”
Per the board-approved motion, the county’s local emergency declaration will end on March 31.
“These last few years, and especially the first year before we had vaccines, were the darkest years many of us have lived through,” Hahn said. “And I really want to take this opportunity to thank everyone in Los Angeles County who helped us get to the other side.”
The City of Los Angeles ended its own local emergency declaration for COVID-19 on February 1. President Biden also informed Congress that he will renew the national emergency and public health emergency declarations on May 11.
Los Angeles County, by far the most populous in the nation, has also been among the hardest-hit parts of California during the pandemic. According to data compiled by The Times, LA has recorded the third-highest per capita cumulative case rate and fifth-highest death rate of California’s 58 counties.
Officials have said a number of factors made Los Angeles County particularly vulnerable to COVID-19, including the region’s poverty rate, overcrowded housing, pre-existing health conditions among residents and its high population of frontline workers who were most at risk of contracting coronavirus on the job. exposure.
Such characteristics have often been cited by county health officials as justification for moving faster and further than their Southern California neighbors in terms of implementing measures aimed at reducing transmission.
Los Angeles County was the first in California to reinstate an indoor mask-wearing mandate in July 2021 in response to the Delta surge, and publicly contemplated reinstating that order the following summer and fall during family-fueled spikes. super contagious of Omicron subvariants.
Like the rest of the state, Los Angeles County has seen steady improvement in many of its pandemic metrics since the winter holiday season.
During the seven-day period ending Tuesday, Los Angeles County reported about 76 cases per week per 100,000 residents.
That’s significantly lower than the most recent seasonal high of 272 cases a week per 100,000 residents, set for the week ending Dec. 1. 7.
It’s also close to the fall break of 60 cases per week per 100,000 people, but still higher than last spring’s low of 42 cases per week per 100,000 people.
A case rate of 100 or more is considered high. The pandemic record was 2,890 cases per week per 100,000 population, set for the week ending January 15, 2022, during Omicron’s first surge.
Until Monday, 648 people with positive coronavirus they were hospitalized countywide: about half that of the most recent seasonal peak of 1,308, set on December 1. 8. It is also much smaller than the previous winter surges of 4,814 on January 19, 2022; and 8,098, set on January 5, 2021.
Los Angeles County is recording 90 COVID-19 deaths a week during the seven-day period ending Tuesday. That’s lower than the winter peak of 164 deaths for 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 a week. Such a number might still be hard to swallow, especially as deaths are now largely preventable with vaccines and antiviral treatments, but it would nonetheless represent stability and “indicate that our protections really are working extraordinarily well.”
By comparison, the all-time peak for COVID-19 deaths was 1,690 in the week ending January 14, 2021. The following winter, the peak was 513 deaths in the week ending February 9, 2022.
Countywide, 81% of Los Angeles County residents They have received at least one dose of the 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.
On Wednesday, the county 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 Public Health. Locations and hours of other vaccine providers are available at vaccinatecounty.com.
COVID-19 is expected to remain a major cause of death for some time, especially among people who are not up to date with their vaccinations and booster shots, and who do not receive anti-COVID drugs such as Paxlovid when they become infected.
Some 60,000 US residents have deceased of COVID-19 since October, a number that is more than triple the estimated 18,000 flu deaths in the US during the same time period.
Another concern is long-term COVID: a variety of symptoms that can persist for months or years after an acute coronavirus infection that is expected to result in a significant cause of disability in the US for some time. A federal estimate, based on survey data, suggests that 28% of people who have had COVID-19 have experienced it for a long time.
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 persisted for years and hasn’t ended.
“It’s sobering to see how so many people are still affected by the long COVID nearly three years into the pandemic,” he said.