Coronavirus cases continue to decline in L.A. County; officials struggle with vaccine shortages

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Los Angeles County’s daily number of coronavirus cases continued to decline Sunday, bolstering hopes that the number of new cases will wane as spring approaches and vaccinations ramp up.

The county reported 1,936 new coronavirus cases and 82 related deaths, comparatively low numbers that may in part reflect weekend reporting delays, according to the county Public Health Department. More than 1.1 million cases have been reported countywide and 19,000 deaths since the pandemic began, officials.

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Still, the daily case counts over the last week — an average of fewer than 3,500 new infections a day — shows a dramatic decline since the peak of the pandemic in early January, when the average number of new daily cases reached 15,100.

The daily number of new infections, while trending downward, remained higher than they were in October, when the county reportedfewer than 1,000 new cases per day, according to the health department. The number of infections and related deaths spiked over the last three months, which officials attribute in large part to back-to-back holidays.

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While the peak of the outbreak may have passed, L.A. city officials have struggled recently to secure enough vaccine supplies to keep vaccination sites open.

Five vaccination sites that were scheduled to close Friday due to supply shortages instead closed Thursday. The sites included Dodger Stadium, Crenshaw Christian Center and other outlets in San Fernando, Lincoln Park and Hansen Dam.

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The regular delivery of vaccine doses dropped to 16,000 last week, a sharp drop from the 90,000 doses received the previous week, officials said. The lack of vaccine supplies has frustrated local officials who say they have the organization and personnel in place to vaccinate many more people.

L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti has said the sites will reopen once the city receives more supplies, but probably not until after the Presidents Day holiday. Garcetti said last week that the vaccine shortages are “an enormous hurdle in our race” to inoculate local residents.

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“We’re vaccinating people faster than new vials are arriving here in Los Angeles,” the mayor said, “and I’m very concerned right now.”

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