Both cities lag in vaccinations

Lancaster and Palmdale had the highest rates of new COVID-19 infections in Los Angeles County during a two-week period that ended on Nov. 6, according to Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer, who unveiled the top 10 COVID hot spots in the county during a recent media briefing.

Lancaster and Palmdale also have below-average rates of fully vaccinated residents, with Lancaster at 58 percent and Palmdale at 66 percent, compared to the countywide vaccination rate of 73 percent.

“If you’re not vaccinated, you’ve got a much higher risk of ending up infected, ending up in the hospital and tragically passing away. That’s crystal clear and it hasn’t really changed for months now,” Ferrer said.

However, seven of the communities on the top 10 list of highest new-case rates have vaccination rates that exceed the countywide rate, according to the numbers presented by the Department of Public Health. Studio City, with the third-highest new case rate, has a 79 percent vaccination rate, and Santa Clarita, placing fourth on the list, has a 75 percent vaccine rate. Ferrer said officials are studying the data to determine what is driving higher case rates in those communities, but she insisted the numbers don’t mean vaccines aren’t effective.

She said current figures show unvaccinated people are nine times more likely than vaccinated people to get infected, and 67 times more likely to be hospitalized.

Ferrer also noted that the median age of people becoming infected ranges from 26 to 36, meaning young people are driving the numbers.

“I will say the one thing that does jump out — the average ages were very low in all these communities,” Ferrer said. “This is, essentially, in the communities with the highest rates, this is a pandemic that is in fact fueled by younger people.”

Given the young median age of infected people, “we know that intermingling both socially and at work sites is contributing,” Ferrer said.

“Whoever you are and wherever you live, whether you live in a community with a high vaccination rate or with not-so-high vaccination rates, the most important thing you as a person are going to need to do is get yourself vaccinated, the people you love vaccinated, and then be sensible about precautions around intermingling while transmission rates remain relatively high across the county,” Ferrer said.

Ferrer noted that the county has not seen a spike in COVID infections following Halloween, unlike the situation last year when cases began rising sharply.

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