By Manny Otiko, California Black Media
Hospital workers in Los Angeles and other parts of the state have been working around the clock to contain the coronavirus Delta variant and treat patients infected by it.
According to statistics from the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health, the county’s positivity rate has steadily increased since the middle of June. Over the past two weeks, new cases, mostly involving the Delta variant, have jumped by more than 200 %, according to the California Department of Public Health. Los Angeles County has seen the highest number of COVID-19 cases and deaths in the state since the pandemic began in 2020.
Dr. Jerry Abraham, an African American physician who is director of Vaccines at the Kedran Community Health Center in South Los Angeles, says the Delta variant is a lot more infectious than previous strains of the coronavirus. Abraham says he has also seen an increase in requests for testing and vaccines over the last month.
One person can infect 8 to 10 people, he said.
To arrest what could become a widespread outbreak of the deadly virus, authorities in California at the local, county and state level are beginning to institute new regulations to prevent another statewide shutdown.
Already facing criticisms and pushback from some members of state workers unions and other opponents for aggressive actions he has taken in his fight against COVID-19, Gov. Gavin Newsom remained firm and announced last week that California school employees must be vaccinated against the virus. If not, they must take a weekly test to prove they are negative. The order affects all 1,037 public school districts and private schools as well.
“We think this is a sustainable way to keeping our schools open and to address the No. 1 anxiety that parents like myself have for young children,” Newsom said at a press conference. “That is knowing that the schools are doing everything in their power to keep our kids safe.”
Late last month, Newsom also announced that all state and health care employees and people who work in congregate settings public health experts deem high-risk are required to be vaccinated. That order was the first state-issued mandate of its kind in the country.
“We are now dealing with a pandemic of the unvaccinated, and it’s going to take renewed efforts to protect Californians from the dangerous Delta variant,” Newsom said at the time. “As the state’s largest employer, we are leading by example and requiring all state and health care workers to show proof of vaccination or be tested regularly, and we are encouraging local governments and businesses to do the same.”
According to CDC figures, Covid-19 cases have been steadily rising over the last 30 days due to the Delta variant surge. The Delta strain was first identified in India in 2020 and showed up in America in March. The coronavirus develops new strains as it interacts with new host bodies, unvaccinated people, and develops stronger versions. As a result, the CDC recently reversed its stance and recommended Americans wear masks indoors.
Cities across California, including San Francisco, Los Angeles, San Diego and Long Beach have instituted weekly testing or proof of vaccination requirements for their employees.
San Diego County has instituted a similar policy.
A growing number of bars and restaurants in Los Angeles and the Bay Area are requiring proof of vaccination before patrons can enter them.
Some large California companies have followed suit implementing vaccination mandates of their own. Among the first ones to take the step are Facebook, Netflix, Google, Lyft, Uber and Disney Co.
President Joe Biden has recently issued a policy that requires all federal workers and contractors to show proof of vaccination or undergo regular testing.
Yet, across the country, including some parts of California, people are aggressively protesting vaccination and mask mandates. This weekend in Los Angeles one person was hospitalized in serious condition after pro-vaccine and anti-vaccine protesters clashed during dueling rallies at City Hall in downtown Los Angeles.
In California, roughly 51 % of residents are fully vaccinated. Another 10 % have received at least one vaccine.
Back in south Los Angles, Abraham told California Black Media that unvaccinated people are being hospitalized and dying while vaccinated people who get infected are showing mild symptoms.
“Vaccines are the best line of defense,” he said
Abraham’s recommendations for protecting against the coronavirus include wearing masks, social distancing, increased sanitation, limiting exposure and staying home when sick.
According to Abraham, the CDPH recommends that medical professionals prepare for giving out a third booster shot. There are expectations that 5 to 11-year-olds will be eligible for vaccination in the fall.
However, Abraham said at this stage, he’s not sure if we’re ever going to fully defeat the coronavirus. He said it might go into remission, much like chickenpox, a disease he hasn’t dealt with in almost 20 years.
He remains hopeful but said there’s more fighting to do to get rid of the Delta variant.