LANCASTER — Less than half of residents in the City are vaccinated against the COVID-19 virus, meaning the city has yet to reach herd immunity.
Los Angeles County reported 314 new COVD-19 infections on Thursday, the highest daily number of new infections since May 15. The new cases lifted the cumulative total from throughout the pandemic to 1,248,415.
As of Thursday, LA County public health officials identified 123 cases of the Delta variant that caused massive outbreaks in India and a surge in cases in the United Kingdom earlier this year. Of those, 49 were residents of Palmdale or Lancaster, and 14 of them came from one household.
“It’s about 40% more contagious, causes more disease, etc.,” Deputy Mayor Dr. Jonathan Truong said in his regular COVID-19 update to the City Council on Tuesday.
When Truong gave his update to the City Council, the county had identified 64 cases of the Delta variant. By Thursday the number increased to 123 cases.
“So far, the vaccines that we have, 90% effective; so we’re still very good in terms of stopping this Delta variant if everyone gets to herd immunity, so that’s another reason to push the vaccine,” Truong said.
Deputy Mayor Dr. Larry Stock said the pandemic is largely over for people who are fully vaccinated.
“If you’ve had two shots or you’re fully vaccinated from the Johnson & Johnson one shot, you’re pretty well done,” Stock said. “You’re unlikely to get it (or) be able spread it, and you’re in good shape.”
However, Stock cautioned the pandemic is not over for the 52% of people in the city who are not vaccinated against the virus. He added infections of the Delta variant are predicted to rise in about a month or so from 6% up to 50%.
“When it does, this is COVID on steroids,” Stock said. “This is more contagious and more dangerous.”
Truong said 90 to 100% patients admitted to local hospitals with COVID-19 are not vaccinated.
“We’re also seeing it in families,” he said.
The City has spent hundreds of thousands of dollars encouraging people to get vaccinated.
“I guess people have the right to commit suicide if they want to; I’ve pretty much given up,” Mayor R. Rex Parris said.
Deputy Mayor Maria Altimirano suggested they focus on grassroots efforts to encourage people to get vaccinated.
“I think we can go back and look at those grassroots efforts and what we can do,” Altimirano said.
Deputy Mayor Tiffany Tanner agreed.
“We need to start talking to more people somehow, one-on-one, and tried to really, really emphasize the importance of vaccines and the importance of continuing to maintain some space and wear a mask if we’re not vaccinated and we’re out and about,” Tanner said.
Parris said he does not want employees in City Hall who are not vaccinated, nor first responders who are not vaccinated working in the city.
“Can we make that happen?” Parris asked City Attorney Allison Burns.
Burns said she would look into it given that the vaccine is not yet been fully approved by the FDA They have been authorized for emergency use by the FDA.
“I want us to do whatever is necessary to have maximum enforcement on this,” Parris said. “I don’t think we should drop the reins just yet.”