An alarming jump in COVID-19 cases was reported on Monday, bringing Los Angeles County’s total past the 100,000 marker, and reinforcing the threat of the virus to the county’s 10 million residents and its ability to hospitalize those who are infected.
Officials reported another 2,903 coronavirus cases, the most ever reported in the county since the pandemic hit, and 22 new deaths. Countywide, there are now 100,772 confirmed coronavirus cases, and 3,326 people have died from the respiratory illness.
“Immediate action is needed,” Barbara Ferrer, the county’s public health director, said at a news conference Monday. “All of us businesses and individuals need to figure out how we personally are going to turn things around.”
The county also reported a large increase in the number of people currently hospitalized with the coronavirus on Monday, with 1,710 patients receiving treatment at local hospitals.
“We are meeting the demand for hospital beds right now, but if the predicted increase in patients requiring hospitalization materializes as our charts indicate it might, the number of hospital beds could become inadequate in the next few weeks,” Dr. Christina Ghaly, the county’s health services director, said.
Every day, more than 17,000 people in L.A. County are being tested for COVID-19. So far, more than 1 million residents have been tested, and the county’s positivity rate has jumped to almost 9%.
Health officials said 1 in 140 people infected with the virus are “walking around not knowing they are infected,” a threefold increase from the 1 in 400 projection given just last week.
And over the last two weeks, a 42% increase in coronavirus cases has been identified in younger people between the ages of 18 and 40.
This past weekend, Ferrer said 49% of bars were not following physical distancing protocols indoors and 54% did not have employees wearing any type of face coverings. On the weekend of June 20, when bars were allowed to reopen, data shows more than 500,000 people flocked to nightlife spots throughout the county.
“We began a recovery journey and businesses reopened, and we knew when that happened we would see an increase in cases and hospitalizations,” Ferrer noted. “What we didn’t expect, however, was to see this steep an increase this quickly.”
Los Angeles County was one of seven counties where Gov. Gavin Newsom ordered a rollback to the reopening of bars on Sunday because of the steep increase in coronavirus cases.
On Monday afternoon, L.A. County Supervisor Janice Hahn announced all beaches in the county would be temporarily closed for the Fourth of July holiday due to coronavirus concerns. The temporary closures will be in effect from Friday to Monday.
“We cannot risk having crowds at the beach this holiday weekend,” Hahn said on Twitter.
Ferrer said county officials will be keeping a close watch to see if closures in other sectors are needed to get the upper hand on the coronavirus. In the meantime, she warned all residents and business to follow the state and local health orders already in place.
Residents are urged to wear face coverings, practice physical distancing and to stay home as much as possible in order to help the county contain the spread of the virus.
“This train can be a runaway train if we don’t put the brakes on it,” Ferrer said. “But we can put the brakes on it.”