L.A. County reports 5th straight day of more than 1,000 coronavirus cases amid delta variant fears

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Los Angeles County reported the fifth straight day of more than 1,000 new coronavirus cases and health officials warned Tuesday that the especially contagious delta variant of the disease continues to spread rapidly among California’s unvaccinated population.

The nation’s most populous state reported 3,256 COVID-19 cases, the highest one-day total since early March. Los Angeles County, where a quarter of California’s 40 million people live, reported a new caseload totaling 1,103.

“One month ago, on June 13, the five-day average of cases was 201 and today the five-day average is 1,095,” the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health said in a statement. “This is an increase of more than 500% in just one month.”

The statewide seven-day positivity rate is 2.7%, which is 50% higher than a week ago and at the highest point since late February, according to data from the California Department of Public Health.

Officials expected a jump in cases when capacity limits were lifted for businesses and most mask restrictions and social distancing requirements were eliminated for vaccinated people in mid-June.

Los Angeles County recommended two weeks later that vaccinated residents resume wearing face coverings indoors after detecting that about half of all new cases were the delta variant.

“A significant number of unvaccinated people indoors, with a highly contagious delta variant circulating, makes it easy for this variant to be transmitted at higher rates,” LA County’s health director, Barbara Ferrer, said in a statement Tuesday.

Statewide hospitalizations reached 1,600, the highest level in two months. In LA County, 376 people are hospitalized with COVID-19, with about 23% of those in intensive care units, health officials said.

California has awarded $116.5 million in prizes — the country’s largest pot of vaccine prize money — to encourage residents to get their shots. Los Angeles County on Tuesday announced a new incentive: people who come to county-run inoculation sites will be eligible to win tickets to concerts at the Hollywood Bowl and Staples Center.

“The COVID-19 vaccines are the most powerful tool to reduce the risk of serious illness if infected,” Ferrer said.

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