Los Angeles County has issued a recent warning that COVID-19 cases, and in particular the Delta variant, throughout the county are on the rise. African Americans in particular are suffering the effects of the virus more than other communities at an alarming rate and are encouraged to get vaccinated.
Martin Luther King, Jr. Community Healthcare has recently provided data showing members of the African American community are suffering more than any other community from the effects of COVID-19 and are encouraging unvaccinated Californians to get vaccinated.
When asked, why should we be concerned about the Delta variant? MLK and healthcare officials said, “The virus is highly contagious and that it spreads quickly and can cause a more severe illness than previous strands of the virus.”
Public Health researchers are finding that people infected with the Delta variant are almost twice as likely to be hospitalized as those who are infected with the Alpha variant. The unvaccinated population is at an even greater risk.
For the first time in months, cases are on the rise; more people are going to the hospital and it is those within the Black and Brown communities, and other communities of color who are being most affected.
While health officials don’t believe that the new variant will cause another massive outbreak of the virus, health experts believe it will cause an increase in COVID-19 cases in communities where vaccination rates are lower, posing the most serious risk to those who are older, sicker and unvaccinated.
Throughout California, the Delta variant is on the rise and is responsible for 38% of new cases as of the end of June. This is up from 5.6% of new cases in May, according to the State’s public health department.
In Los Angeles County, the Delta variant is spreading like wildfire. The Delta variant made up nearly 50% of new COVID-19 cases in L.A. County; four weeks earlier, it was less than 5%.
MLKCH, which is the leading medical institution within the South Los Angeles community has seen a steady increase in the number of cases. In the past eight weeks, they have seen 117 new COVID-19 cases and the numbers continue to rise.
Dr. Elaine Batchlor, president and CEO of MLKCH said, “If you’ve been waiting to get your COVID vaccine, now is the time to stop waiting and do it. COVID vaccines are powerful weapons to protect yourself and prevent the continued spread of COVID in our community, including the Delta variant. The Delta variant is spreading quickly and can cause more severe illness. Unfortunately, the Black community is lagging behind in COVID vaccination and as a result, is experiencing higher rates of infection and hospitalization. Let’s not allow this terrible disease to decimate our community again.”
In the past eight weeks, over 51% of all new cases have been Black/African Americans and 42% of all new cases have been Latino/Hispanic. These higher infection rates are also representative in the statistics of those receiving the vaccination since in communities like Compton, only 53% of residents have been vaccinated. In Watts, the number is right at 50%, which is an extremely lower number than in more affluent communities throughout Los Angeles County where the numbers are hovering between 70 and 80%.
The COVID-19 vaccine is highly effective against the virus in general and in particular, the Delta variant. All three vaccines in the United States (Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson) show strong protection against severe disease and death from the Delta variant.
MLKCH also warns that if you have previously been infected with COVID, you are still at risk for becoming infected by the Delta variant. However, the immunity from the COVID-19 vaccines still remains strong and is the best option for protecting individuals and their loved ones from being infected or suffering extreme symptoms from the virus.
Individuals are encouraged to get vaccinated as soon as possible and reminded that finding locations at local distributions locations is free and easy.
Although the CDC no longer recommends people who are fully vaccinated to wear mask, health experts have said it may make sense for people living in areas where vaccination rates are low and Delta cases are increasing to continue covering their faces.
People are also reminded that the following are high-risk setting for COVID-19
- Indoor gatherings
- Large crowds
- Places such as senior living facilities or airports where infections could be high.
For this reason, the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health now recommends that all people wear face masks when indoors regardless of one’s vaccination status.