Officials Caution Against Risky Labor Day Gatherings

Recent community transmission data has indicated a decline in confirmed COVID-19 cases in Los Angeles County, a trend that public health officials strongly hope to see continue during the holiday weekend — and they’ve urged area residents to help avoid a reversal of the progress.
“As we approach the Labor Day weekend and as we plan for how our county will reopen schools and more businesses, we must learn from our past,” Director of Public Health Barbara Ferrer said in a statement released on Monday. “Gatherings — parties, cookouts and the other activities we usually do with non-household members on holidays — can easily lead to increase in transmission, hospitalizations and death.”
The department this week urged residents to “heed the lessons learned from the spike in cases, hospitalizations and deaths that occurred after the previous holidays” and find alternative ways to celebrate “without going to parties and barbecues hosted by non-household members.”
“As we look at the possibility of reopening more businesses and, eventually, schools, there is a lot at stake,” Ferrer said Tuesday, returning to the theme. “Increased numbers of people being around one another can result in more transmission of COVID-19, at a time where we need to be doubling down on our efforts to slow the spread. Our past weekend inspections demonstrated that 20% of restaurants and 17% of markets are still not in compliance with the Health Officer Orders. This does not help us get our numbers down.”
La Cañada Flintridge Mayor Michael Davitt echoed Ferrer’s proclamation of following health guidelines this holiday weekend.
“As we enter the end of summer, there has been some very good news regarding COVID,” Davitt wrote in an email. “Cases appear to be down, testing is up and hospital stays are lower as well. This good news comes with precautions, as it remains very important that everyone follow the County and State health regulations. … Please be cautious and follow the guidelines for large gatherings. It is important that we continue to work towards this downward trend of lowering COVID cases and trying to return to some sense of normal.”
New cases in the county surged after the July 4 holiday, reaching a daily record of 4,592 on July 16 and averaging nearly 3,200 reported cases during the second half of the month.
However, numbers during August are encouraging, with a seven-day test positivity rate of 4.7% in a recent stretch compared to 8.6% reported on July 31. During that same August period, hospitalizations decreased by 48% and the seven-day average of reported new cases declined 55% from 2,883 to 1,309.
According to Tuesday’s report from the county, a total of 166 coronavirus cases and seven deaths have been reported in LCF.
As for the possibility of reopening school campuses and more businesses following the recent announcement of Gov. Gavin Newsom’s new tiered framework, the public health department reminded everyone that decisions are ultimately made by the local health officer in consultation with the county Board of Supervisors.
The governor moved away from the watch list system that tracked COVID-19 trends and has developed a color-coded framework based on case and positivity rate. L.A. County is currently in the widespread tier — indicated by the color purple— that includes counties reporting more than seven daily new cases per 100,000 people and a positivity rate higher than 8%. In those counties, most nonessential indoor businesses are to remain closed.
Counties in the substantial tier (red) — which have 4-7 daily new cases per 100,000 and a positivity rate of 5-8% — can allow some nonessential businesses to operate. Placement in the moderate tier (orange), signifying 1-3.9 daily new cases per 100,000 or a positivity rate of 2-4.9%, means some businesses can open with modifications. The minimal transmission tier (yellow) allows most businesses to open with modifications if the county reports less than one daily new case per 100,000 and a positivity rate below 2%.
“The current number of new cases per day per 100,000 people is 13.1, nearly double the threshold for this tier, which is less than seven new cases per day per 100,000 population,” Monday’s release from county Public Health stated. “And even though L.A. County’s current test positivity rate of 5% puts us in Tier 2 (red) for this metric, when the two metrics fall in different tiers the state places counties in the most restrictive tier; hence, L.A. County, like most counties in California, has been placed in Tier 1. Our path forward for recovery depends on us being able to reduce community transmission significantly so children and teachers can get back to their classrooms and more people can get back to their jobs with as much safety as possible.”

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