LOS ANGELES - Los Angeles County reported 6,918 new cases of COVID-19 and 316 additional deaths on Saturday, as health officials also confirmed the second local case of the COVID-19 variant B.1.1.7 which was first discovered in the United Kingdom.
The B.1.1.7 specimen, submitted by a clinical facility, was sequenced as part of routine surveillance by the county's Public Health Laboratory. The first confirmed case of B.1.1.7 was logged on January 16, according to the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health.
Officials believes the B.1.1.7 and other variants are already spreading in the county, and they are continuing to test samples. B.1.1.7 is considered more contagious, but not necessarily more deadly, than the original strain of COVID-19.
Officials also confirmed four additional cases of MIS-C, bringing the total number in the county to 66 children, including one child death. All 66 children with MIS-C in L.A. County were hospitalized and 44% of the children were treated in the ICU.
Of the 66, 32% were under the age of 5, 38% were between the ages of 5 and 11, and 30% were between the ages of 12 and 20.
MIS-C is an inflammatory condition associated with COVID-19, and symptoms include fever that does not go away and inflamed body parts, including the heart, lungs, kidneys, brain, skin, eyes, or gastrointestinal organs.
The county's COVID-19 hospitalization rates continue to decline, with 5,669 coronavirus patients hospitalized Saturday, down from 5,855 the day before, and 26% of those patients in the ICU.
Meanwhile, the county's large-scale COVID-19 vaccination site at Dodger Stadium was briefly and unexpectedly closed Saturday after protesters showed up at the entrance. Public safety officials were able to reopen the site in the afternoon as hundred of cars waited in line.
"Working with our public safety partners to ensure everyone with an appointment gets their vaccine today,'' Los Angeles Police Department Chief
Michel Moore tweeted.
The Los Angeles Fire Department shut down the gates of the stadium site for almost an hour after protesters tried to get inside. The gates were shut from 1:50 p.m. to 2:45 p.m., according to firefighter David Ortiz, who said police estimated there were about 50 protesters.
Video from the scene showed one protester with a sign urging the recall of Gov. Gavin Newsom, and others carried signs opposing the COVID-19 vaccine.
The gates were closed to keep the protesters out, Ortiz said. People in vehicles inside when the gates were closed got their vaccines and those locked out got their shots when the protesters left, he said.
There were no arrests, according to Officer Rosario Cervantes of the LAPD.
Health officials said Saturday that COVID-19 vaccination appointments for next week are available in Los Angeles County for those who qualify. For county residents seeking their first dose, "appointments from February 1 -7 are now available at VaccinateLACounty.com,'' the health department tweeted.
Residents will be able to book their first and second dose appointments at the same time. Officials said email confirmations are being sent out for those
seeking a second-dose appointment.
People currently eligible to get vaccinated in the county are health care workers, long-term care facility residents and those aged 65 and over.
Allocations of COVID-19 vaccine continue to lag behind demand, with the county expecting to receive roughly 188,000 doses next week. Many of those,
however, will be needed to administer second shots to people who have already
received the first dose of the two-dose regimen.
As of the end of last week, the county had received a total of 853,650 doses. It received an estimated 143,900 doses this week, pushing the total to nearly 1 million.
Vaccination appointments can be booked online at vaccinatelacounty.com or by calling 833-530-0473 between 8 a.m. and 8:30 p.m.