Health officials Thursday highlighted ten areas of Los Angeles County that have become “hotspots” for COVID-19 in recent weeks amid continuing concerns about an area likely to see another surge in the winter virus.
Lancaster, Palmdale, Studio City, Santa Clarita, Venice, Downtown Los Angeles, Wholesale District, Willowbrook, West Hills and Stephenson Ranch were all areas marked by high rates of coronavirus infection.
Data collected between October 24 and November 5 found that Lancaster, Palmdale, downtown Los Angeles, the wholesale district, and Willowbrook in particular had not only high 14-day infection rates, but also very high cumulative case rates, L.A. County Health Director Barbara Ferrer said in a media briefing.
“The fact that these communities are currently hotspots for transmission suggests that even high rates of past infection are not sufficient to protect them from current waves of infection,” Ferrer said.
Ferrer added that there is not a single common problem in all of those 10 communities that the Department of Health can refer to to explain the high case rates.
Ferrer said three of the “hotspots” had lower-than-average vaccination rates for COVID-19, but that others had “really good” vaccine coverage.
Vaccination rates in Lancaster (58%), Palmdale (66%) and Willowbrook (62%) were below the district-wide rate.
But this was not the case in Studio City, Santa Clarita, the wholesale district, downtown Los Angeles, Venice, West Hills and Stevenson Ranch, all of which had vaccination rates of 75% or higher.
This does not mean that vaccination rates are not a factor.
“If you are not vaccinated, you will be more susceptible to infection, and you will end up in the hospital and tragically die. That’s pretty clear,” Ferrer said.
The Department of Health is still looking into why these 10 communities have become “hot spots”.
Ferrer said very few cities have had recent outbreaks, and there has been no discernible pattern.
One common theme emerged: the average age of people who tested positive recently in those communities was between 26 and 36 years old.
“Given the relatively young age of many infected people, mixing at work and in the community is likely to play a role in the increased risk of transmission,” said the health director.
“This is a pandemic primarily fueled by young people,” she added.
However, Ferrer said there is one message for everyone in the county, not just the younger residents.
“Wherever you are and wherever you live, whether you live in a community with a high vaccination rate or not with very high vaccination rates, the most important thing as a person is that you as a person will need to do is vaccinate yourself, and get the people you love,” she told Los Angeles County residents. They are vaccinated, hence caution is taken about precautions regarding mixing.