No Labor Day COVID-19 surge in L.A. County; hospitalizations declining but virus still widespread

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After a small uptick in coronavirus cases heightened fears of another virus surge last week, Los Angeles County’s health officials over the weekend said the county has avoided a major spike and COVID-19 hospitalizations are still on the decline.

Department of Public Health officials said the county steered clear from having a coronavirus surge thanks to residents and businesses being more careful during the holiday — compared to during Memorial Day, which set the ground for an increase in cases that ultimately forced the county to roll back reopenings back in July.

“I do not think it is inevitable that we see a huge surge again this fall. Rather, I am convinced by our recent data and the actions taken by many, that we can do what is essential to slow the spread,” county Health Director Barbara Ferrer said in a Saturday statement.

The health department reported 10 new COVID-19 deaths and another 815 cases Sunday, bringing the countywide total to 267,801 with 6,514 fatalities.

A key indicator of how fast a virus is spreading is COVID-19 hospitalization rates.

There were 692 hospitalized across the county because of the virus on Sunday — a number that shows a major decline from the average of 1,100 people hospitalized in August and the more than 2,200 in mid-July. 

This means that there’s been decreased COVID-19 transmission in L.A. County.

Still, hundreds of residents test positive for the virus each day and younger people are driving the county’s daily case numbers.

“We cannot yet re-open every sector; we cannot yet host and attend gatherings and events; we cannot yet stop protecting those who are most vulnerable. I do believe, however, that we can continue a thoughtful and measured recovery that prioritizes making it as safe as possible for children to get back to school and adults back to work,” the health director said.

The good news is that the data shows taking actions like avoiding crowds, wearing masks and social distancing is working, Ferrer said.

“We still have a ways to go, but our most recent data shows us that the more people use the tools at our disposal, the more we decrease transmission,” Ferrer said. “With less community transmission, it is significantly safer to continue our recovery journey and consider measured opportunities for a small number of additional re-openings.”

L.A. County is currently in the purple tier, the most restrictive phase of the state’s four-tier color-coded system for reopenings.

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