LOS ANGELES (CNS) – With the Dodgers continuing their playoff run and the Lakers and Clippers tipping off a new NBA season, Los Angeles County health officials again urged fans to exercise caution against COVID-19 while watching games, either in person or at a local sports bar.

   The county Department of Public Health warned that increases in COVID infections were seen last October due to more frequent gatherings of people watching sporting events. Health officials noted that there is added safety this year due to the availability of vaccines, but the continued spread of the highly virulent Delta variant of the virus still presents a danger of infection at large gatherings.

   “We know COVID-19 spreads more easily in settings where people are singing and chanting close together without their mask on, as we often do at parties or celebrations,” county Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer said in a statement. “The risk is especially high when these activities are done indoors. While we cheer on our teams, let’s continue working together to avoid a winter surge that forces us to take steps backward on our recovery journey.

“The best way to do this is by being vaccinated if we plan on entering places
where there is an increased risk of virus transmission.”

   The county requires attendees at large outdoor events like Dodger games to show proof of vaccination or a recent negative COVID test. Attendees are also required to wear face masks, except while actively eating and drinking.

   At indoor events such as Laker and Clipper games, proof of vaccination is required.

   Fans planning to watch games at indoor sports bars in the county also must have proof of at least one dose of vaccine. Proof of full vaccination will be required beginning Nov. 4. The same rule applies to employees of indoor bars, breweries, wineries, distilleries, and nightclubs.

   According to the most recent county figures, 79% of eligible county residents aged 12 and over have received at least one dose of vaccine, and 70% are fully vaccinated. Among the overall 10.3 million population, including those ineligible for shots, 68% have received at least one dose, and 60% are fully vaccinated.

   The county reported another 31 COVID-19 deaths on Wednesday, raising the overall death toll during the pandemic to 26,473.

   Another 1,267 infections were also confirmed, giving the county a cumulative total of 1,480,656. The average daily rate of people testing positive for the virus was 0.9% as of Wednesday.

   According to state figures, there were 613 635 COVID-positive patients in county hospitals as of Wednesday, down from 635 on Tuesday. Of the hospitalized patients, 177 were in intensive care, down from 178 a day earlier.

   On Monday, the county released statistics showing the increased risk of COVID infection among unvaccinated people, saying the infection rate for unvaccinated teens is eight times higher than for vaccinated teens. For adults over 50, the rate is five times higher for unvaccinated people, according to the agency.

   Unvaccinated residents aged 12 and older are 12 to 22 times more likely to be hospitalized due to COVID-19 than their vaccinated counterparts, and the death rate is 32 times higher among residents 18 to 49, according to DPH.