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L.A. County Cases Spike, Residents Warned of Restrictions

Rose Bowl mobile testing site, Pasadena, April, 2020. Photo by Helen Arase.

Location

Alhambra , CA

Los Angeles County’s coronavirus case numbers keep going up, so officials are nicely warning residents of the possibility of reinstating restrictions if the trend does not change.

“We have to be willing to take action quickly, as our situation has evolved. Any modifications in the Health Officer Orders are always done in the name of preventing more cases, more serious illness and more deaths,” L.A. County Department of Public Health director Barbara Ferrer said.

“Our inability to follow the most basic infection control measures […] finds us in a place where we’re slowing our recovery journey,” she said.

Over the weekend, the county’s data processing system was updated to withstand the volume of information it receives, resulting in a reporting of Thursday, Friday and Saturday’s numbers as a total of 7,232.

Friday was the highest number of new cases to date, with 3,187 positive cases. Thursday added 2,643 cases and Saturday was missing a number of reports from one of the larger processing labs but still reported 1,402 people’s positive results.

Ferrer reminded those listening to the Monday press conference that the last 24 hours’ numbers are depressed, due to some large labs not reporting on Sunday.

Still, a total of 1,584 new cases were reported and 48 deaths were confirmed. The countywide case count is now 116,570 with 3,534 deaths. Over 1.1 million people have been tested.

While an increase in testing capacity is yielding more positive test results – 26,000 possible tests per day according to Board of Supervisors chair Kathryn Barger – the 7-day positivity rate is also increasing, indicating more community transmission than previous weeks.

Since the county began testing in March, the average of those tests returning positive is 9%. The 7-day positivity rate – positive results of those tested within the last week – is now 10%, Ferrer said on Monday. The lowest overall positivity rate was 8%, a few weeks ago when the stay-at-home orders began lifting, and the 7-day rate was as low as 4-5%, as reported by the health department at that time.

The increase in positive cases has also shifted demographics. The new cases and hospitalizations have decreased in the 65 years and older age group but increased in younger adults, specifically the 18 to 40 age group.

Public Health says this means younger people are spreading the virus. Of those who are dying, the majority still have underlying health conditions, regardless of age.

While the impact of July 4 will not be measurable for a few weeks, health officials gave Memorial Day as an example of the lag time and hoped this holiday will not show similar spikes.

“The next two to three weeks will be telling,” said Barger.

Ferrer said there was “ample evidence” of young adults not respecting the Health Officer Order. Her examples: on the beach, in the garment district and in “party groups,” people were not wearing face coverings and in close proximity to each other, whilst sharing food and drinks.

She also said that health inspectors were in the community this weekend, shutting down businesses “completely not in compliance” with the Health Officer Order – mainly restaurants who were still offering sit-down dining.

The county is asking, once again, for everyone to continue to stay indoors as much as possible. Wash hands, sanitize surfaces, wear face coverings and do not hang out with those outside of your household.

Try to avoid the county’s “three Cs” – crowded places, confined spaces and close contact with others.

Ferrer also gave some insight into how the county reports deaths and why they expect the current case spike to show up (in deaths) weeks from now.

After a person dies, there is a week or two of delay in reporting because the county must confirm the positive case. Ferrer explained that a person who dies of COVID-19-related complications has to go through every stage of the illness – exposure, symptoms, serious illness, hospitalization, intensive care and then finally death.

Therefore, with the increase in positive cases and community spread, the county expects the death count to go up after a delay.

The county is still offering COVID-19 tests. The Department of Health Services said it is adding more time slots every day – 6,000 will be added tomorrow – so keep checking the testing sites for availability.

Go to the county’s testing site to make an appointment. You can also register for a test through the State of California’s testing website. COVID-19 testing is free.

The county is planning on opening five to 10 new community testing sites and will release more information at a later time.

The county’s COVID-19 Surveillance Dashboard is not only tracking tests, deaths and demographics.

They have added more tabs, including comparing cities/communities testing rates. Less than 9,000 people in Alhambra have been tested for COVID-19. The city is ranked in the bottom 50% of Los Angeles County communities, at 173 of 331, based on percentage of the population tested.

For all of the reporting from the Alhambra Source, go to our Stay Healthy page.

Thank you for reading our story! Alhambra Source is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization. Our newsroom reports fact-based quality journalism that educates, informs and engages our diverse communities - with no paywall. Support our mission and donate today!

The Alhambra Source encourages comment on our stories. However, we do not vet comments for accuracy or endorse links to posts in the comment section. The thoughts and opinions expressed belong solely to the author of the comment.

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