COVID-19 on the rise in Los Angeles County

Although coronavirus hospitalizations have been generally trending downward since July, health officials still fear a potential spike in hospital demand

2020_0515_asian_american_COVID_600x300LOS ANGELES (CNS) – Los Angeles County health officials have reported 953 new cases of COVID-19 and 10 additional deaths, bringing the county’s totals to 288,136 cases with 6,863 fatalities.

Officials with the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health said the relatively low number of cases might be a result of several missing reports from Friday evening.

A total of 746 people were hospitalized due to the virus as of Saturday, up from 735 on Friday, 723 on Thursday, 720 on Wednesday and 692 on Tuesday.

Although coronavirus hospitalizations have been generally trending downward since July, health officials still fear a potential spike in hospital demand if the region experiences a severe flu season while the COVID-19 pandemic is still raging, and are recommending flu shots for all in hopes of avoiding a surge of hospital demand due to influenza and COVID-19.

The department continues to urge residents to learn and abide by new county and state guidance which allow limited private gatherings with three or fewer households. All private gatherings must occur outdoors. Attendees must wear a cloth face covering when they are together except when they are eating or drinking and keep at least six feet of physical distance. Food must be served in single-serve disposable containers, and the duration of the gathering should be two hours or less.

It is recommended that if residents do gather with two other households, that they do so with the same households each time, creating a quasi-bubble that can reduce the risk of spreading the virus to others.

“To slow community spread of COVID-19 in our county we must all partner together; businesses and residents must do their part and adopt the infection control measures that we know to be effective,” county Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer said. “Each of us has the opportunity every single day to make the right choices for our health and the health of those around us. If we work together to limit transmission and slow the spread of COVID-19, not only will the county move to a less restrictive tier that allows us to consider additional re-openings, we will save lives.”

Of the 10 deaths reported Saturday, two people were over the age of 80, four people were between 65 and 79, two were between 50 and 64, and one person was between 30 and 49.

One death was reported by Long Beach, which has its own health department. All nine deaths reported by Los Angeles County were people who had underlying health conditions.

The county’s top health officer, Dr. Muntu Davis, said Thursday the change in policy on gatherings — while originated by the state — was an acknowledgement that such small gatherings were already occurring, despite health orders barring them. Davis said changing the health order was a chance for county officials to at least establish some guidelines for such meetings in hopes of limiting virus spread.

But the change came at a time when the county has seen rising daily COVID-19 case numbers and an uptick in the transmission rate, indicating a likely increase in future cases barring major behavioral changes and stricter adherence to health guidelines such as wearing face coverings.

In order to move out of the most restrictive tier of the state’s four- tier coronavirus economic-reopening roadmap, the county needs to get its daily average new case numbers down to about 700. In the past week, however, the number has regularly topped 1,200 .

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