LA County Adds New COVID Restrictions as California has Lowest Infection Rate in the Country

By Justin HAGER

Los Angeles County is doubling down on COVID prevention efforts as a growing body of evidence shows that strong prevention measures, like those implemented in California, are highly effective at preventing the spread of the virus.

Under the new order, customers and employees of all indoor bars, wineries, breweries, nightclubs and lounges will be required to show proof of receiving at least one dose the vaccine by Oct. 7 and be fully vaccinated by Nov. 4. Furthermore, outdoor sporting and entertainment event attendees, such as those attending Dodgers, Rams, or Chargers games or outdoor concerts or music festivals, will be required to show proof of vaccination or a negative COVID test. These requirements are in addition to the contentious July order requiring all people over the age of 2 to wear masks at all indoor public spaces when not eating or drinking.

The new orders come amidst a growing body of evidence that vaccines, masks, and other prevention efforts are highly effective at preventing the spread of COVID-19 and the Delta variant. After a week of flirting with the bottom spot, California now officially has the lowest new-case rate of any state in the country and is seeing new infections at a rate that is only 25% of the hardest-hit states, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

But Public Health director Barbara Ferrer warned that it’s still too soon to declare victory.

“We can’t afford to be complacent with an average of 2,000 new cases and dozens of deaths each day,” she said. “In order to be better prepared for the fall and winter, typically seasons when many viruses thrive, we need to immediately reduce COVID transmission.”

Officials also remain concerned about persistent disparities in vaccine rates in communities with different socio-economic statuses and the urban-rural divide in vaccine rates. Data from the California Dept. of Public Health shows that in communities where median household incomes exceed $100,000, such as La Cañada, Sparr Heights and Altadena, vaccination rates are between 70% and 90%. Meanwhile, low-income communities in the same region whose average household income is less than $50,000, such as Adams Square, have persistent vaccination rates of below 55%.

The money-to-vaccine correlation is a national trend that is so strong that it caught the attention of Money Magazine last month. It found that “of the 20 states with the highest median household incomes – we’re including Washington, D.C., in this mix – 16 are also in the top 20 for vaccination rates. On the flip side, 14 out of the 20 states with the lowest median household incomes have vaccination rates in the bottom 20 nationally.”

In the Money article, Dr. Julia Raifman, an assistant professor of health law, policy and management at Boston University’s School of Public Health, explained, “It’s hard to find the time or even figure out if you want to get the vaccine when you’re worried about food on the table or a roof over your head.”