L.A. County awaiting more COVID-19 Labor Day data that could determine movement to next reopening tier

Local news

Health officials on Monday said it’s still unclear when Los Angeles County will be able to move into the next reopening tier because more data from Labor Day Weekend is needed before that call can be made.

The county reported a steady decrease in the number of new coronavirus cases through August and September, but last week the case counts were on the rise again, leaving health officials concerned over the uptick in cases.

“We’ve had a troubling trend the last few days from the last week and we think, in fact, that could allow us to not be able to make movement into tier two in the upcoming couple of weeks,” L.A. County Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer said at a news conference on Monday.

Ferrer said in addition to how freely people interacted with each other over Labor Day weekend, the uptick may also be because of testing sites reopening after temporarily closing due to poor air quality.

This week, health officials will continue to keep a close eye on the case numbers which will help make the determination if L.A. County moves forward or stays put under the state’s tiered guidelines. Currently the county is in the state’s most restrictive tier due to case counts and positivity rate.

“We are looking every day to see whether we have an indication that we’re going to see a surge in the numbers of cases, which would be the first place we would see an increase related to how we all behaved with each other over the Labor Day holiday,” Ferrer said. “We do have four days of data from last week that showed a significant increase in the number of cases. We will need to look at Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday’s data to see if that increase continues.”

On Monday, health officials reported 652 new cases and 16 new deaths. Countywide, there is a total of 261,446 cases with 6,366 deaths, according to the county’s Department of Public Health.

“As we prepare for the fall, we must acknowledge that COVID-19 remains a significant threat. The difference between now and the early months of the pandemic, is that we have a much better idea of how to effectively protect each other from becoming infected,” Ferrer said. “Given the reality that as many as 50% of those infected are able to transmit the virus to others may have no symptoms, taking universal precautions in every interaction with others who are not in your household, is absolutely essential.”

On Monday, 749 people were hospitalized for COVID-19 and 28% were in intensive care units. While more people continue to venture out of their homes, Ferrer cautioned those who are vulnerable.

“Those of you that have underlying health conditions, you need to stay home as much as possible,” Ferrer said.

Ferrer said county officials continue to inspect local businesses daily to ensure they are following safety protocols set forth in the health order. Since Aug. 30, inspectors have given 46 citations to 25 different businesses.

“In some cases, these establishments were also closed because there were significant health and safety concerns or flagrant violations of the health order, including operating indoors in violation of both the state and county health officer order,” she added.

More than 2.5 million people have been tested for COVID-19. The county’s positivity rate has shown a steady decrease for the last six weeks, Ferrer said, and on Monday was at about 3%.

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