COVID-19 vaccine study enrolling volunteers in Los Angeles

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A vaccine trial is coming to Los Angeles County, with a focus on enrolling individuals who have been most impacted by COVID-19, officials announced Wednesday.

Health officials have highlighted how the coronavirus has disproportionately affected communities of color and people with underlying conditions.

“We need broad representation of the populations that are most impacted by COVID and have the most benefits to gain from a potential vaccine, so we can ensure that an eventual vaccine … is truly able to help those who need it,” Christina Ghaly, the county’s health services director said, during a news conference Wednesday.

Those interested in enrolling as volunteers can visit helpstopcovid.la.

Also on Wednesday, officials announced that the COVID-19 case rate has continued to drop and is now at less than 200 cases per 100,000 residents, bringing the county one step closer to being removed from the state’s watchlist and possibly reopening some schools.

But they continued to stress the importance of maintaining physical distance, regular hand-washing and wearing masks while out in public to help slow the spread of coronavirus until there is a vaccine.

“We can’t let our guard down,” Ghaly said. “We have better control of the virus, transmission has markedly decreased over the past month, but it’s up to us and each and every one of us to continue the practices that will allow that progress to be maintained.”

This is especially important as Labor Day approaches, officials emphasized.

Barbara Ferrer, the county’s public health director, reminded residents that cases spiked after Memorial Day weekend and peaked following the July 4 holiday.

“We have so much riding on being able to get community transmission rates down very very low, including feeling very good about getting children, teachers and staff back to our schools,” she said. “Let’s acknowledge that Labor Day is a celebration of workers, and the best way to keep workers safe is to stop transmitting this virus.”

Ferrer said the county is working with beach city mayors to monitor coastal areas and make sure beachgoers are in compliance with current health officer order on Labor Day weekend.

“This is not a party time, this is not a party scene. If the beaches get overcrowded, we’ll have to take actions like you’ve seen us take before, and the same thing for the trails,” Ferrer said.

The county reported 1,642 new coronavirus cases on Wednesday, bringing the total to 235,286. Additionally 58 new deaths were reported, raising the death toll countywide to 5,663.

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