COVID-19 cases are again trending upwards, with national records being broken in recent weeks and health officials urging the public to stick to safety protocols to slow the surge.
As of Wednesday, according to the most recent data published on the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health dashboard on Friday, Burbank has had 2,140 cases and 74 deaths. A seven-day average of new coronavirus cases had crept up to 19.4 a day, surpassing summer peaks. A month earlier, on Oct. 11, that seven-day average was 11.3 new cases a day; it was as low as 4.7 in September.
“There are many contributing factors to this increase,” Mayor Sharon Springer said in an email, “which include an uptick in cases in some of our skilled nursing facilities, an increase in Burbank residents being tested, and an increase in people becoming complacent and beginning to gather in homes, whether it be to watch sporting events or people just tired of the restrictions and wanting to socialize. Burbank has not seen a new reported fatality in over a week.”
She added, “We continue to encourage people to wear a face covering, practice social distancing and avoid gatherings, including gatherings with friends and family from outside their household. We must be vigilant as COVID-19 does not grant immunity or exemption over the holidays.”
California Gov. Gavin Newsom, along with the governors of Oregon and Washington, issued an advisory Friday urging residents to avoid out-of-state travel and to self-quarantine for 14 days after arriving from another state or country.
In L.A. County, hospitalizations due to COVID-19 surpassed 900 this week, compared to 650 to 725 in early October. Health officials also said on Thursday that the county is seeing more than 2,000 new cases a day, up from an average of 1,464 on Nov. 3 and 988 on Oct. 3. There were 330,450 cases reported countywide and 7,221 deaths as of Wednesday.
Meanwhile, the United States counted more than 1 million new COVID-19 cases in 10 days and recorded its 10 millionth case on Sunday, Nov. 8. The nation’s total was more than 10.5 million cases and 240,000 deaths as of Friday, according to Johns Hopkins University.
Meanwhile, California surpassed 1 million COVID-19 cases this week. But Shira Shafir, an epidemiology professor at UCLA, said in an email that it could be worse if more sectors were reopened.
“In California, while we are clearly seeing an increase in cases, we have seen less of a surge than other places throughout the country, largely because of our conservative approach to reopening; we have not yet opened schools or the economy in the way that other states have done so,” she said. “Preventing opportunities for the virus to be transmitted is the most important thing that can be done.”
Shafir also expressed concern that Thanksgiving gatherers could exacerbate the spread of the virus, advising — as officials continue to — that community members adhere to the practices they’ve come to know over the course of the pandemic.
“Social distancing and mask wearing are the two most important things that individuals can do to slow the spread of COVID-19,” she explained. “This means not having gatherings with people outside of your household, even for the upcoming holidays.”
Shafir and public health officials have also cautioned that, as hospitalizations and cases increase, deaths often follow.
After receiving a number of calls and emails from residents requesting such a policy, Burbank officials announced that those in the city who refuse to wear a face covering when required to do so would be issued a citation. The enforcement, which began on Oct. 16, is being handled by contracted employees paid $65 an hour, according to Sgt. Derek Green of the Burbank Police Department.
As of Wednesday, 13 citations had been issued, he added.
While Burbank is seeing a gradual increase in new cases, Eric Baumgardner, the city’s emergency management coordinator, said its number of cases remains lower than the county’s when adjusted for population.
For example, as of Wednesday, L.A. County’s case rate per 100,000 people was 3,173, compared to Burbank’s 1,997.
“We’re doing way better when you … compare apples to apples,” Baumgardner said by phone.
He also said that Burbank’s rate of newly reported cases, which on Wednesday was nearly 5.8% averaged over seven days — more than the county’s 3.9% for the same time frame and Burbank’s October average of 4% — was more sensitive to increases in cases because of the city’s relatively lower case count.
“We want to make sure that Burbank residents understand that, although our number … doesn’t sound good, when you look at the overall scheme of things,” Burbank is in the overall lower percentage of new cases, Baumgardner explained.