Hospitalizations at lowest level yet but L.A. not ‘out of the woods,’ Garcetti says

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Mayor Eric Garcetti said Wednesday that Los Angeles is “slowly but surely moving in the right direction” as hospitalization rates continue a steady decline after peaking in July.

“Our hospitalizations from COVID, right now, are at the lowest level they have been since the first outbreak here in LA.,” Garcetti said. “Your actions have saved the lives of thousands of your family members and neighbors.”

If the overall decline in hospitalizations and deaths continue, L.A. could shift into the less restrictive Tier 2 of the state’s reopening plan sometime next month, public health officials said Wednesday.

But gatherings with other households without face masks and other violations of physical distancing measures could lead to more troubling infection and death rates like those seen earlier in the pandemic, officials said.

“Positive trends don’t mean that we’re out of the woods by any stretch,” Garcetti said. “The virus is still here, and we still have to act with vigilance.”

While the county continues to see overall progress, the current transmission rate of 0.95 is “slightly higher than last week,” Garcetti said. But that rate still indicates that each case of coronavirus will lead to less than one new infection.

Troubling spikes in hospitalization and infection rates followed in the weeks after the Fourth of July and Memorial Day, something health officials have attributed to gatherings in violation of social distancing on those holidays.

According to the county’s Department of Public Health, officials will look at data at the end of September to see if any gatherings over Labor Day weekend lead to a surge like those seen after the Fourth of July and Memorial Day, particularly since record-breaking temperatures led to large crowds in Santa Monica.

By the end of the month, health officials should be able to determine whether there really was increased transmission of the virus over Labor Day. And if there is such a surge, the county would not be able to roll back restrictions and move into Tier 2 of the state’s reopening plan yet.

On Sunday, Garcetti criticized President Donald Trump’s leadership during the pandemic, saying he didn’t work hard enough to help stop the spread of the virus in cities like L.A.

“If we had known and had leadership that didn’t say ‘calm,’ but actually allowed us to do the work and provided us the resources to do so we would have taken action much earlier, and thousands of lives in my city, and obviously, maybe tens of thousands if not 100,000 lives in America could have been saved,” Garcetti said on CNN’s “State of the Union.”

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