COVID-19 vaccines still in short supply in LA, Garcetti says

LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- Even as Los Angeles ramps up its vaccination efforts, Mayor Eric Garcetti acknowledged the city still doesn't have enough doses.

"As I will say in probably every briefing until this crisis is done, we don't have enough vaccines. We don't have enough vaccines," Garcetti said Thursday during a briefing on the city's response to the coronavirus pandemic.

"I'm spending every day with our team and with our amazing partners to ensure we get more vaccines to more people, more quickly who need them," he added.

In response to the state planning to move to an age-based eligibility system for vaccinations, Garcetti also said the state should give the city flexibility to decide when different groups receive vaccinations.

"Give us the flexibility and allow us to make sure we are getting vaccines into those communities where people are dying disproportionately," he said.

And as more variants appear, the mayor again urged Angelenos to continue wearing masks and follow the proper safety measures to prevent spread of the virus.

"It's not the time to start gathering in people's homes, it's not the time to ignore social distancing. It's not the moment to stop wearing a mask," he said. "If you've gotten your vaccine, that too is not a passport to party. This is the time to double down."

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L.A. County elementary schools could be just weeks away from reopening if coronavirus case rates continue to decline, the county's top public health official said.

The ban on outdoor dining in L.A. County will be lifted Friday, and it comes as the county appears to have turned the corner in certain areas.

Daily infection numbers have been trending downward over the past two weeks, following a surge that saw the county regularly reporting well over 10,000 cases.

Even better news is the continuing downward trend in hospitalization numbers. According to state figures, there were 5,855 people hospitalized due to COVID in the county as of Thursday, including 1,503 in intensive care on hospitalizations. That marks a dramatic drop from the 8,000-plus patients reported earlier in January.

L.A. County schools are also getting closer to reopening. The L.A. County Department of Public Health said Wednesday elementary schools may be able to reopen in a matter of weeks.

L.A. Unified Superintendent Austin Beutner told CNN reducing spread in the community, having proper safety measures at schools in place and getting teachers vaccinated will be needed to get instructors back in classrooms.

Beutner also said Thursday that nearly a half a billion dollars of unrecouped costs have been spent changing the filtration systems on schools, and putting the equivalent of an N-95 mask on classrooms.

City News Service contributed to this report.
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