More businesses in the Southland are scrambling to adjust to a rapidly shifting environment rocked by a cascade of evolving mask and vaccine recommendations from federal, state, and local officials.
That comes as new COVID-19 cases continue to surge, fueled by the hyper-contagious delta variant, which now accounts for more than 80% of specimens sequenced in the state, according to the latest public health data.
While COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations remain below last fall and winter’s surge, state health officials worry about the rapidly increasing rates of cases and hospitalizations.
Recently, some L.A.-area restaurants decided to shutter their doors to keep customers and workers safe — some voluntarily closing to be cautious and others after reporting new coronavirus infections.
Bottega Louie in West Hollywood was one of the restaurants to take the step to close down in response to the latest surge. Meanwhile, The Village Idiot in Fairfax temporarily closed because a fully vaccinated staff member tested positive for the virus, according to their Instagram page.
Meanwhile, a growing number of Los Angeles politicians are pushing to require city workers to get vaccinated against COVID-19, following in the footsteps of cities like New York, San Francisco and Pasadena.
Last week, L.A. County health officials said the daily average case rate had risen to 15.7 per 100,000 people, compared with 12.9 cases per 100,000 people just the week before. But officials said that was still a smaller rate of increase compared with the week before that when cases increased more than 80% from the previous week.
“The tragic reality is that almost every single person hospitalized and dying from COVID-19 is unvaccinated and these hospitalizations and deaths are, for the most part, preventable,” Barbara Ferrer, the county public health director, said in a statement over the weekend.
On Saturday, L.A. County health officials reported 3,318 new COVID-19 cases and 11 coronavirus-related deaths.
The county public health department noted that hospitalizations have risen 45% since just last Saturday but have not increased as rapidly as new COVID-19 cases.
Officials say that vaccinated people who do get breakthrough infections don’t get as seriously ill as they would have without the vaccine.
“The data overwhelmingly shows the vaccines to be effective at preventing serious illness that causes hospitalization, and death,” Ferrer said. “To really beat back transmission, however, we need to have higher levels of vaccination, particularly among our younger residents.”
She added that more residents, especially younger people in the county, “need to have higher levels of vaccination” to reverse the course of surging cases and hospitalizations.
“We recognize that many teens and young adults that have not yet been vaccinated have heard or read that the vaccines aren’t safe and that COVID causes only mild illness. Neither is true,” Ferrer said. “Almost 25,000 LA County residents have died from COVID-19, and COVID is now the leading cause of death.”