The return of our children to school should be an occasion for celebration, but as we begin the new school year, we cannot ignore the resurgence of Covid-19 here in Los Angeles. We should all be vigilant in ensuring the safety of all children, as well as that of our teachers and school personnel.
The Delta variant has very quickly spread and is taking a terrible toll, particularly among the unvaccinated. In Los Angeles County, we have seen the number of hospitalizations double over a two-week period. Throughout California, we are seeing thousands of new cases and hundreds of deaths every day. Most of these deaths were completely avoidable. Although vaccinated individuals may still contract the Delta variant, they are at far less risk of serious illness, hospitalization or death. The cases of serious illness are overwhelmingly occurring among the unvaccinated.
By now, it should be clear that all of us who are able to receive the vaccine need to do so as soon as possible. Acting on a motion I co-sponsored with Councilmember Mark Ridley-Thomas, the City of Los Angeles is requiring that all of its own employees and contractors show proof of vaccination or, if they have a legitimate religious or medical reason to be exempted, undergo weekly testing for the virus. This is an essential measure to protect both our City’s workers and the members of the public with whom they come in contact. The County and State have taken similar measures with their employees, and the Governor has ordered school employees to do the same.
For a variety of reasons, many in our community are still reluctant to receive the vaccine. I am hopeful that increased public information and dialogue will help alleviate concerns and uncertainty. At the same time, lives are being endangered by some who spread outrageous misinformation and even conspiracy theories. These are the facts: The Covid-19 vaccines are among the most tested drugs in history. To date, over 4.88 billion doses have been administered worldwide, and serious side effects are extremely rare. On the other hand, we know with absolute certainty that an unvaccinated person is far more likely to suffer severe consequences by contracting the virus, far more likely to die from Covid-19, and far more likely to spread the virus to others..
Some insist that choosing not to be vaccinated is a matter of personal choice or individual liberty, but we live in a society, and we all have responsibilities to others. The unvaccinated run a greater risk of exposing others to a deadly virus, infringing on their liberty by threatening their lives and unnecessarily delaying our return to a normal way of life.
Together, we can defeat the Delta variant, end the havoc of Covid-19, and begin to rebuild our economy and our social interaction. We must all do our part, and that includes getting vaccinated if we can, following mask guidelines, and taking simple and common sense precautions like social distancing and hand washing. For more information about COVID-19 vaccinations, please visit the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health website.