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L.A. sends out public safety alert to cellphones, urges residents to get COVID-19 vaccine

The city of Los Angeles sent out cellphone alerts Wednesday, urging residents to get vaccinated against COVID-19 as case numbers “rapidly” rise amid the spread of the more contagious delta variant.

“Protect yourselves, loved ones and your community by getting vaccinated now,” read the public safety message, which appeared around 11 a.m. “Vaccines are free, safe, and highly effective.”

The alert went on to urge people experiencing coronavirus symptoms to get tested.

L.A. residents can find a vaccination or testing site by visiting the website Coronavirus.LACity.org/VaxAlert or by dialing 833-540-0473 between 8 a.m. and 3 p.m., the alert concluded.

The city’s move marks the latest effort to combat a recent surge in cases in the L.A. area. On Tuesday, the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health reported 2,067 new COVID-19 cases, 825 hospitalizations and 15 deaths.

Notably, younger adults are seeing the highest rate of increase in the county. Over the past month, coronavirus cases in those ages 18 to 29 rose from 40 per 100,000 to 350 per 100,000, according to the health department.

The next age group — adults 30 to 49 years — also experienced a spike in infections, from 33 per 100,000 to 247 per 100,000 in the last month.

And on Monday, the county said that coronavirus hospitalizations had nearly doubled over a two-week period, and almost all of the patients hadn’t received the COVID-19 shot yet.

In announcing the latest COVID-19 figures, health officials emphasized again that cases are more severe in people who haven’t been vaccinated, or are only partially vaccinated, against the virus.

“During the winter surge last year, when case rates were increasing four- or five-fold over the course of a month, we saw hospitalizations multiplying in direct proportion to case rates,” county Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer explained in a statement. “Today, even though our case rates have increased by up to nine times, hospitalization rates are, at most, doubling. Having half of our County population vaccinated is largely responsible for this positive trend.”

To date, the county as administered almost 11 million doses of the COVID-19 vaccine to residents ages 12 and older. Of those, more than 6 million shots have been first doses and nearly 4.9 million were second doses.

About 61% of the county’s eligible residents are vaccinated, but 70% have gotten at least one jab, health officials said.

The city’s alert came one day after L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti and City Council President Nury Martinez announced that unvaccinated city workers will be required to get a weekly coronavirus test.

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