Los Angeles County on Wednesday recorded the highest one-day increase of coronavirus case numbers not associated with a backlog since late August, officials said.
The increase of 1,843 new coronavirus cases was also accompanied by a slight uptick in COVID-19 hospitalizations. This mirrors trends seen statewide.
There were 817 people with COVID-19 hospitalized Wednesday — the first time hospitalizations for the respiratory illness passed 800 since mid-September.
“While this is still significantly lower than the peak of over 2,200 daily hospitalizations in mid-July, the increase in hospitalizations is most likely associated with the continued increase in cases over the past two weeks,” the L.A. County Department of Public Health said in a news release.
Health officials monitor COVID-19 hospitalization counts closely since they show how many people are seriously ill, and help make projections about future demand for hospital beds and ventilators.
“Unfortunately, the continued significant increase in cases reflects many instances where basic prevention measures were lacking,” Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer said in a statement. “Unless we can all get back to protecting each other, our recovery will stall.”
Officials earlier this week said gatherings large and small are likely to blame for the spike in daily coronavirus cases in the county.
A USC study found that there’s been a 57% increase in people reporting close contact with people they don’t live with since April — a sign of the pandemic fatigue seen throughout the country,
Officials said that if just 10% of L.A. County residents attended gatherings, it translates to 1 million people coming together with people from different households. And if just 2% of those people were infected, then there would be 20,000 people capable of spreading the virus to others at gatherings each week.
With cases already increasing and the holidays approaching, L.A. County officials said they were concerned about the coming months.
“With just one infected person at a well-intentioned gathering, dozens and dozens of people can become infected over weeks and weeks of virus transmission,” Ferrer said. “Some people will become seriously ill, and some may even die.”
L.A. County has so far recorded 313,562 coronavirus cases with 7,117 deaths attributed to COVID-19.
The coronavirus remains widespread in the county, and the region can’t move forward with opening schools and other sectors until it lowers its case rate. For now, L.A. County remains in the most restrictive purple tier in the state’s four-tier, color-coded system for reopenings.
To move on to the next phase, the red tier, L.A. County would need to reduce its daily number of new cases to 7 or fewer cases per 100,000 people for two consecutive weeks. Currently, the case rate stands at 7.5 new cases per 100,000 people — much closer to the goal than last week’s figure of 8.0.
The other metrics the state watches are the overall test positivity for the whole county and the test positivity rate in its lowest-resourced areas. In both areas, L.A. County meets the state’s standards to be moved to the next tier.