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Citing rise of delta variant, Los Angeles reports 165 percent increase in Covid cases

“The data makes it increasingly clear that vaccines remain the most important tool we have to keep Covid-19 transmission and the incubation of variants low," Barbara Ferrer, the county's director of public health, said.

LOS ANGELES - Despite beating back some of the highest coronavirus rates in the country earlier this year, Los Angeles County is once again seeing an uptick in new infections.

Public health officials reported a 165 percent increase in confirmed cases over the last week, with 839 new infections recorded as of Thursday. Fully vaccinated residents make up just a small fraction, 0.06 percent, of these new infections, according to the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health.

“The data makes it increasingly clear that vaccines remain the most important tool we have to keep Covid-19 transmission and the incubation of variants low," Barbara Ferrer, director of public health, said in a statement. "Overall Covid-19 trends are going in the wrong direction for everyone, and are particularly concerning given the proliferation of the Delta variant."

Pedestrians walk along Hollywood Blvd. in Los Angeles on July 1, 2021.Mel Melcon / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

California public health officials recorded 2,411 new infections as of Friday with a seven-day average of 3.3 cases per 100,000 people. The state has administered more than 42 million vaccine doses to date.

State officials lifted Covid-19 restrictions June 15, more than a year after the state first locked down. Case averages remained low in the first few weeks following the reopening but have since steadily ticked upward as vaccinations stalled, residents shed their masks, businesses returned to full capacity and summer travel resumed.

Now, the county’s daily average case rate is 3.5 cases per 100,000 people, doubling last week’s rate of 1.74 cases per 100,000 residents. The highly transmissible delta variant, first identified in India, has been the most common strain of the coronavirus in Los Angeles since the beginning of June, mirroring the pattern throughout the country.

“Almost without exception, everybody that’s getting hospitalized, the people who have lost their lives, have been hospitalized or lost their lives because they haven’t been vaccinated — period, full stop,” Gov. Gavin Newsom said during a news briefing Wednesday.

As of July 3, the variant accounted for nearly 52 percent of new Covid-19 cases that had been genetically sequenced in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Two weeks earlier, on June 19, the variant accounted for just over 30 percent of new cases.

Latinos continue to comprise the majority of infections in Los Angeles, with 636,379 cases to date compared to 48,269 for Black residents, 57,046 for Asians and 132,198 for white residents.

In Los Angeles, roughly 4.6 million of the county's 10 million have been vaccinated and "slightly under 4 million" remain unvaccinated, according to the public health department.

Studies have shown that the Covid-19 vaccines are effective against multiple variants, including the delta variant. A recent report from Public Health England, where the variant accounts for more than 90 percent of new cases, found the two doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine to be 96 percent effective against hospitalization.

“This is the call to anyone who hasn’t been vaccinated: Get vaccinated,” Newsom said. “What more evidence do you need?”