Los Angeles County officials reported 2,055 new coronavirus cases on Saturday — one of the highest one-day increases for the county.
Officials attributed the high number, in part, to delays in lab reporting, but said there has been more coronavirus transmissions in recent weeks as more businesses reopened and massive protests continued throughout the county.
“While the most critical numbers for us to watch are daily hospitalizations and deaths, and these numbers remain stable, we are mindful that positive cases across the County have increased, and this reflects both high rates of testing and increased community transmission over the past few weeks,” the county health director, Barbara Ferrer, said in a written statement.
Saturday’s increase brings the number of known infections in L.A. County to 81,636, with a total of 3,110 people who have died of the respiratory illness after officials reported another 43 deaths.
As she has for months, Ferrer reminded residents that having contact with those from different households increases the risk of spreading the coronavirus and urged residents to use face coverings, wash their hands and practice physical distancing.
“Many businesses and spaces reopened in the last month, and residents have found themselves in crowded situations at boardwalks, bars, and protests,” she said.
Those who have participated in protests have been advised to quarantine for 14 days and then get tested for the virus.
“This is how we protect each other in the weeks ahead,” Ferrer said.
Those with underlying health conditions remain at much greater risk for serious illness from COVID-19, and officials continue to urge people to stay home if they’re immunocompromised. That includes people who smoke, have have HIV or AIDS, or are getting cancer treatment or bone marrow or organ transplants.
Across the county, 1,406 people were hospitalized for COVID-19 as of Saturday— 29% of them in intensive care units and 22% on ventilators.
The average daily number of COVID-19 hospitalizations had been steadily decreasing in recent weeks, but the county saw a slight increase in the last three days, Ferrer reported Friday, explaining that the increase may be due to all hospital patients being tested for the virus when they arrive, even if they’re hospitalized for a different reason.
County officials said they’re using certain metrics to guide reopening the economy, including the average number of deaths, hospitalizations, daily testing numbers and hospital capacity.
The county reported the overall seven-day average number of deaths has decreased by 20% and is on target for all groups except in neighborhoods where 10% to 20% of the population live below the poverty level.
And while hospital capacity remains sufficient, the county reported slight decreases in the availability of ICU beds and ventilators.
The county is also on track with its coronavirus testing, with around 17,800 people tested each day. So far, 916,000 test results have been reported to the health department.
And though the numbers indicate stability, Ferrer warned Friday that they are the result of county conditions from weeks ago, and don’t reflect the effects of recent gatherings and reopenings.
“The death and hospitalization numbers we are showing today represent the results of actions that we took about three to four weeks ago,” she said. “Many businesses and spaces have reopened in the last month. So we’ll be watching all of these indicators carefully to see what impact the opening is having in our communities.”