While many in Los Angeles County look forward to children returning to schools and more business sectors getting back to normal operations, health officials on Monday said a surge in coronavirus cases is once again standing in the way and urged residents to get back to strict COVID-19 precautions.
“There in no real path forward until we get back,” L.A. County Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer said at a virtual press briefing Monday.
Alarm bells started going off after county officials saw more than 2,000 cases daily from Thursday through Sunday, an increase from mid-September to late-October when reported coronavirus cases went from about 750 cases per day to almost 1,400 cases daily.
On Monday 1,413 new coronavirus cases and five new deaths were reported, but officials cautioned that numbers at that start of the week are typically lower because of a lag in weekend reporting.
“Recent numbers of daily cases are telling us that we’re seeing a surge of coronavirus cases in our county, the surge is not as steep as what we saw in July, but we’re very concerned that the numbers can continue to increase,” Ferrer said.
Some communities are currently experiencing a large increase in virus transmissions including Pacoima which logged 506 cases per 100,000 residents, Palmdale with 456 cases per 100,000 residents and Sun Valley with 456 cases per 100,000 residents over the last two weeks. Those cities’ case rates are well above the county’s 188 cases per 100,000 residents and Ferrer said people who live in those communities need to take extra precautions.
“This isn’t a blip any longer, this isn’t an ‘Oh we just had one bad weekend and now we’re getting it back under control,'” Ferrer explained. “This is now a surge in our cases and if it continues it will be quite alarming to go into our coldest months seeing this level of increase in cases.”
Currently there are 855 patients hospitalized for coronavirus, 29% of whom are being treated in the intensive care unit and 16% are on ventilators.
Health officials urged county residents to get back to taking the COVID-19 safety precautions seriously including wearing face coverings in public, physical distancing, not gathering with people outside of your household, staying home when you’re sick and frequent hand-washing.
“The virus is relentless and it easily transmitted. None of that has changed just because we are eight, nine months in,” Ferrer said.
Anyone who was part of a crowd or took part in a large gathering over the weekend is also urged to quarantine for 14 days to help curb the spread of COVID-19.
“I think it’s going to be much better if we all get back to doing our part,” Ferrer said. “If not, then we have to start looking at closing things back down again.”
To date, L.A. County has reported 323,625 coronavirus cases and 7,177 deaths attributed to COVID-19. More than 3.2 million people have been tested countywide for the virus and 9% have tested positive.