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Morning Brief: A Doctor Answers Your COVID Questions, ShakeAlert Updates, And Getting Soaked

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Good morning, L.A. It’s May 6.

Every day, our newsroom’s call-in show, AirTalk, welcomes a physician to answer listeners’ questions about COVID-19 and the vaccine. Earlier this week, host Larry Mantle spoke with Timothy Brewer, M.D., an epidemiologist and professor of medicine at UCLA’s School of Public Health. Here are some of the questions he answered. (The conversation has been edited for length and clarity):

Do you have any concerns about restaurants in L.A. County moving to 50% indoor capacity, and bars serving patrons indoors?

We're getting increasing evidence that these vaccines actually prevent infection as well as disease. There's a study published by the [Centers for Disease Control] of healthcare workers across eight states with the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, both demonstrating — while not 100% effective — they did in fact prevent both infection and asymptomatic disease, and then probably interrupted transmission.

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So I think as people continue to get vaccinated, it makes sense to ease up on some of the restrictions.

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President Biden set two new goals for the Fourth of July: giving 70% of U.S. adults at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, and having 160 million adults fully vaccinated. Are we on track to do that?

The concerning issue is the interest in vaccinations falling off. In mid-April, we were vaccinating about 3.4 million people a day, nationally. According to the CDC, we’re now vaccinating about 2.2 million people a day. So, somehow we need to continue to reach out to people who have not been vaccinated, try to address their concerns and find ways to encourage them to become vaccinated.

Is there anything you'll be watching for as L.A. County enters the yellow tier?

Well, we're clearly not out of this pandemic. It will be important to look at parameters like the number of new cases a day, and the test positive rates. Right now, we're seeing less than one percent [of people] testing positive, and we're averaging about 60-65,000 tests a day. If that starts rising, then that's an early signal that there is more transmission going on, and that would be concerning.

What's your sense of the potential threat of the variant that’s currently wreaking havoc on India?

The variant, known as B1617, has some changes that are already present in other variants. The big variant of concern right now is B117, which was originally found in the U.K. That's accounting for about 60% of all cases of COVID-19 in the U.S. right now. The variant being found in India does have two changes that may make it a little more likely to be transmissible, and a little less likely to be neutralized by antibodies, but I don't think it's going to be as big an issue as some of the other variants we're currently dealing with.

Keep reading for more on what’s happening in L.A. today, and stay safe out there.

What Else You Need To Know Today

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Before You Go … Knott's Soak City Waterpark Is Coming Back

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AFP via Getty Images)

Knott’s Berry Farm’s popular Soak City Waterpark will reopen its doors to the bathing-suited masses on May 29. You’ll need reservations, and it will have capacity restrictions, like most other businesses. But, you’ll be able to take your mask off while you wait in line for activities in the park, or while you’re in the water.

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