With the county expecting to receive its first shipment of coronavirus vaccine doses as early as this weekend, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti on Thursday urged Angelenos to uphold pandemic protocols during what’s expected to be a lengthy vaccine rollout.
Earlier Thursday afternoon, a federal advisory panel recommended Pfizer’s vaccine for widespread use, putting it one step away from approval. Once it’s given the green light, shipments are expected to begin immediately.
Public health officials expect around 83,000 doses in L.A. County’s first vaccine shipment, and nearly 500,000 doses by the end of this month — enough to fully vaccinate about 2.5% of the county’s residents, since both vaccines pending approval require two doses.
First in line for the shots will be front-line medical workers and nursing home residents.
It’s still unknown when the county will be able to provide a vaccine to everyone who wants one, but it’s expected to take several months.
In a briefing Thursday evening, Garcetti urged all Angelenos to get vaccinated once the shots are available to them.
“We will work very hard to make sure that those who need the vaccine most are the first in line, and also that no communities are left behind because of geography or income or culture,” he said.
In the meantime, the county is repeatedly setting records in daily case increases and the number of people battling COVID-19 in local hospitals.
On Thursday, the county broke its record yet again with more than 12,800 new cases reported, surpassing the previous record of 10,500 set Sunday.
“Where we are, and where we are headed, is quite alarming. Each day we continue to see a record number of people hospitalized since the very beginning of the pandemic,” said Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer, who broke down in tears at one point during Wednesday’s press briefing.
There were also 24 more virus deaths reported Thursday in the city of L.A. and 74 new deaths in the county.
“Put more clearly, every hour somebody is dying in the city of Los Angeles,” the mayor said. “And every 20 minutes somewhere here in L.A. County, someone is dying from COVID and its complications.”
Garcetti compared the current state of the pandemic in L.A. County to the final miles of a marathon: “The toughest, but it is worth it.”
“This is that Thanksgiving surge finally upon us, and we have to make sure there’s not a Christmas and holiday surge,” he said.
Officials estimate that one out of 140 people in L.A. County is currently infected — “so the more places you go, the higher risk you are at,” Garcetti said.
Nearly 488,000 virus cases and 8,149 deaths had been recorded countywide since the pandemic began.