6,492 New Cases, 262 Deaths ReportedBy CBSLA Staff

LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) — Los Angeles County residents 65 years of age and older are now able to schedule an appointment to get the COVID -19 vaccine, but many are having trouble signing up online or on the phone.

Staff distribute the COVID-19 vaccine to people as they remain in their vehicles at The Forum in Inglewood, Calif., on Jan. 19, 2021. (Al Seib/Los Angeles Times/Getty Images)

Santa Clarita residents Roger and Marilyn Fountain tried to get an appointment online for a COVID-19 vaccine Wednesday morning.

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“We are hoping to get an appointment soon,” Fountain said. “We fit into the 1B category because I’m over 70 and she’s over 80.”

Marilyn said, “We tried to get it before the end of this month and it said nothing was available.”

People who try to register online are met with a message saying there are no appointments available, and those who try to call the hotline here an automated message saying, “Our covid-19 call center is getting thousands of calls and our website users are experiencing technical difficulties.”

Scheduling vaccination appointments for seniors began Tuesday, but the process has been anything but smooth.

Calls were disconnected, people were left on hold, the reservation system kept crashing and some said it was just plain confusing.

“Just keep trying getting online,” Fountain said.

After hearing from frustrated seniors who weren’t able to book and appointments, CBSLA’a Rachel Kim tried it herself. She called the number around 12:15 p.m. and almost two hours later, was still on hold.

This afternoon, L.A. County Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer acknowledged the issues people had getting appointments that began today at the county’s five vaccination super sites as well as the city’s and smaller distribution locations.

“We’re very sorry for those who experienced problems yesterday with an overwhelmed registration system online and the call center,” Ferrer said.

She said their biggest challenge is not the process or the capacity, but the limited supply of vaccine doses coming into the county.

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“Our ability to protect even more L.A. County residents in the coming weeks and months is entirely dependent and constrained by the amount of vaccine we receive each week and often we do not know from one week to the next how many doses will be allocated to L.A. County,” she said.

According to Ferrer, the county has added more workers at its overwhelmed call center and is working to improve the website.

“Available appointments filled quickly so please keep checking our website as there may be some cancellations,” she said.

Meanwhile, the county reported 262 additional COVID fatalities Wednesday and 6,492 more cases.

The numbers brought the county’s death toll to 14,416 deaths and the caseload to 1,038,092.

While new case numbers, positivity rates and hospitalization figures are trending downward, Ferrer said it’s too early to proclaim the surge over.

Ferrer said the county’s seven-day average of daily deaths was 179 on Jan. 10, dropping to 174 on Jan. 12.

While deaths persist, the county has begun to see a drop in daily numbers of new cases, along with dips in overall hospitalizations and the testing positivity rate.

Ferrer said Wednesday’s caseload is the lowest in weeks, although she said the number may be low due to reporting lags and lack of testing availability over the holiday weekend.

She said the county was averaging more than 15,000 new daily cases on Jan. 8, with the average dropping to about 10,000 a week later.

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(© Copyright 2020 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. City News Service contributed to this report.)