LOS ANGELES - Los Angeles County health officials have reported more than 1,000 cases for 11 days in a row as concerns over the Delta variant rise.
The Delta variant is believed to be the most transmissible COVID-19 variant to date.
"We're dealing with the Delta variant which is far more aggressive, and far easier to obtain. This virus will find you and infect you and will attempt to kill you if you're unvaccinated. What we know is that the Delta is far more transmissible than any of the previous variants that have come out and what we're seeing is a tremendously increasing number of patients that obtain the virus and unfortunately become sick enough and develop severe COVID to where they need hospitalization," said Dr. Thomas Yadegar, the Medical Director for the Intensive Care Unit at Providence Cedars Sinai Medical Center.
Health officials have attributed the recent spike to the presence of the more infectious Delta variant and the intermingling of unmasked individuals where vaccination status is unknown. Dr. Yadegar said their hospital is also seeing younger, healthier patients.
"The patient population that we're seeing in the hospital are usually under the age of 50 and don't have the co-morbidities in terms of chronic lung disease, heart disease, diabetes or being overweight. Now, we're seeing far more younger, healthier patients," he said.
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Yadegar also said the majority of patients are unvaccinated. LA County health officials reported more than 99% of new cases in the county are among unvaccinated people.
"The vast majority of the patients we're taking care of are unvaccinated either because they didn't believe in it or refused to get the vaccine or had allergies and were unable to get it. We are starting to see a few patients with immunocompromised status and we know in those patients the vaccine isn't quite as effective in preventing the disease," said Yadegar.
However, Yadegar said vaccinated patients are still contracting the virus, but experience no symptoms or mild symptoms.
"What we are seeing in the patients that have the vaccine, when they do get the virus, even the Delta variant, half of those patients are asymptomatic, and the other half that get symptoms. their symptoms are very mild and resolve in a few days. With the vaccination, you can turn a deadly virus into a bad cold or minor flu," he said.
Dr. Yadegar said unvaccinated patients are experiencing a plethora of symptoms including shortness of breath, severe cough and low oxygen levels. Hospitals are starting to see a resurgence of patients with COVID-19 symptoms.
"We went from many weeks without having any patients in the hospital or receiving any calls in our offices for patients with COVID symptoms to over the past two weeks, we've had a significant increase in both the number of outpatients as well as the number of patients that require hospitalizations. I think the only fortunate thing is that Delta came around after we got a lot of our most susceptible vaccinated. If the Delta variant was around in November, December and January, we would have had millions of patients die and we would have had to ration health care," he said.
Yadegar described being unvaccinated as playing "Russian roulette" with your life.
"At this point, with the fact that the vaccines have been available and effective and are safe, I don't really understand why anyone would take a chance with playing Russian roulette with their life," said Yadegar.
A new face-covering mandate went into effect in Los Angeles County at 11:59 p.m. Saturday that requires everyone to wear masks in indoor public spaces regardless of their vaccination status.