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Tuesday, June 30, 2020
L.A. County COVID-19 Deaths Surpass 100,000 as Virus Resurges; Health Officials Call for Urgent Action
By BRIAN DAY
Detected cases of COVID-19 in Los Angeles County reached 100,772 Monday, and deaths topped 3,326, as officials warned that the novel coronavirus had resumed spreading at an alarming rate.
The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health reported 2,903 new infections, the largest single-day increase to date, and 22 new deaths on Monday.
“We’re quickly moving toward overwhelming our health care system and seeing even more devastating illness and death,” L.A. County Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer said. “We can’t sustain this level of increase. We just can’t.”
The seven-day average of new infections stood at nearly 2,000 on Monday, up from an average of 1,379 two weeks ago, according to county data.
In response, all L.A. County beaches were ordered closed from July 3 to July 6, L.A. County Supervisor Janice Hahn said in a written statement.
“We had almost 3,000 reported cases just today. We cannot risk having crowds at the beach this holiday weekend,” she said.
It was estimated that 1 in every 140 people in the county was walking around while infected, and not even knowing it, officials said. That number last week was 1 in 400.
Officials reported 1,710 patients were hospitalized in L.A. County on Monday. In recent weeks, hospitalitions have averaged between 1,350 and 1,450.
L.A. County’s overall positivity rate — the number of people who test positive divided by the number of those tested — increased from 8% to 9% on MOnday. The positivity rate over the past seven days was recorded at 8.4%. Gov. Gavin Newsom has cited an 8% positivity rate as the point he wants to see counties to stay below in order to avoid potential state intervention.
As the county has seen a significant increase in infections in patients between 18 and 40 in recent weeks, Ferrer addressed that group specifically.
Forty-two percent of known infections as of Monday were among people in that age group, according to county data.
Even if younger people believe they are not at significant risk, themselves, from the coronavirus, “You are a spreader,” Ferrer said. “You have easy ability to spread this infection to other people who do, in fact, have higher risk of either needing hospitalization or potentially dying from COVID-19.”
In Pasadena, 30 new novel coronavirus infections were reported Monday, bringing the total to 1,306, city spokeswoman Lisa Derderian said. New deaths were reported. Eighty-nine people have succumbed to COVID-19 in Pasadena.
Fifty-three COVID-19 patients were being treated at Huntington Hospital in Pasadena on Monday, hospital data shows.
Pasadena has also seen a trend of younger patients, Derderian said.
“Over the last two weeks, we have seen a 35.3% increase in cases among children less than 18 years old and a 36.6% increase in cases among 18- to 40-year-olds,” she said.
Officials suspected the spike was due to younger people more likely to venture out, attend gatherings and adhere less stringently to social distancing guidelines, she added.
California Gov. Gavin Newsom announced Monday that 5,307 new infections had been reported statewide. Just over 4,800 infections were reported on Saturday, and 5,972 on Friday.
“In the last seven days, we’ve seen a 45% increase in the number of cases that have tested positive in the state of California.
California’s positivity rate over the past week reached 5.9%, Newsom said. The prior two weeks saw a 5.5% positivity rate.
The governor last week ordered Imperial County, which has been especially hard hit, to resume stay-at-home orders. Over the weekend, he also ordered bars closed in seven counties, including Los Angeles County, and recommended bars be closed in eight additional counties.
“Our actions to slow the spread cannot wait. We do need to do these actions now, and for the near future,” Ferrer said. “I can’t stress enough what’s at stake at this moment.”
“We don’t want to experience even more tragedy of seeing friends and family members pass away from COVID-19,” she said.
“I know we can do this, because we have done it. Please, let’s not let go of everything we worked hard and sacrificed for. We did slow the spread, and we must continue to work together to turn this around.”
Health Services Director Dr. Christina Ghaly said that based on current infection rates, “We are likely to see an increase in mortality in the weeks ahead.”
She displayed a chart showing that if the upward trend continued, deaths could easily surpass 100 per day in the county by late-July.
“If the predicted increase in new patients requiring hospitalization materialized, the number of hospital beds could become inadequate in the next few weeks,” she said.
“Even with the more limited use of intensive care that we’re using for patients with COVID-19, versus what we saw at the beginning of the pandemic, we’re likely to fill our available ICU beds in the very near future.”
“Things have changed a great deal over the last several days and we’re now seeing a very different trajectory in the number of cases and the number of hospitalizations across the county,” Ghaly said.
“Hospitalizations are on the rise in the county, transmission has increased within our communities, and as a result, we all need to be more careful about the steps we are taking to prevent transmission,” she said.
While officials at the county and state levels stopped short of re-issuing “stay-at-home” orders, Ferrer urged everyone to remain at home as much as possible. And she urged the elderly or those with underlying medical conditions to do their best to avoid leaving home altogether.
“There’s way too much infection circulating in the community for people who are at higher risk to actually be spending any time outside that’s not absolutely essential,” Ferrer said.
Everyone else, you should also stay home as much as possible, and limit activities outside of your home to what you really need to do,” she said. “This is the time to hunker down, back in your home, whenever you can.”
Ferrer said she “strongly advised” against holding any type of gathering over the Independence Day weekend.
She encouraged residents to remember avoiding the “three Cs” of confined spaces, crowds and close contact, and continue washing their hands frequently and wearing face coverings.