Today Los Angeles County reported no new COVID-19 related deaths. The last time we had a zero count was March 18th, 2020. Today’s count is an additional manifestation of the continued divergence between case rates and mortality rate (Figure 1 below).
The peak in cases occurred the week of January 5th (at 143.7 new daily cases per 100,000) and deaths occurred a week later at 2.66 daily deaths per 100,000. However, since that time these rates have plummeted and, for the week ending April 27th, there were 3.1 new daily cases and 0.04 daily deaths, both per 100,000 population.
Although we have covered this topic before, we are continuing to see a greater rate of decline in mortality rates than cases. Case rates have remained relatively steady for the last month and a half: 4.4, 4.2, 4.4, 4.5, 4.0 and 3.1. However, in that same time period mortality rates have been: 0.20, 0.17, 0.11, 0.09, 0.05, and 0.04. This is directly attributable to the efficacy of the COVID-19 vaccine which provides essentially 100% protection against hospitalization and death.
But the relatively flat COVID-19 case rate represents the continued laissez-faire attitude of the County Health Department in terms of actually containing COVID-19 [Note: “containment” is formally defined by the Harvard Global Health Institute as fewer the 1 new daily case per 100,000 – in Los Angeles we are typically 4-5 times above this goal]. Without a focus on containment and then eradication, we will ultimately transition from a pandemic to an endemic state. One would rather, of course, eliminate the virus entirely but when a virus becomes endemic (an example is HIV), it will continue to circulate in the population, causing sporadic infections. Contact tracing is the solution to eliminating COVID-19 entirely from our population, but the County continues to have absolutely abysmal case follow-up rates. Although there were only 1,291 cases in the past week, the Health Department only completed 594 interviews (46%). This is only slightly better than its performance through the entire pandemic – 44.8% of more than 470,000 cases.
In spite of this, there is only good news when it comes to our current COVID-19 state in Los Angeles County. At the height of the pandemic, there were over 24,000 active cases per 100,000 population. Now? 27 active cases per 100,000 – a 99.9% decrease.