Pandemic Rages in County as New Cases Spike

Nearly nine months into the COVID-19 pandemic, Los Angeles County officials reported a record-shattering 7,593 new confirmed cases signaling the “worst day thus far,” and Director of Public Health Barbara Ferrer said early this week that she expected that number to climb.
“It will likely not remain the worst day of the pandemic in Los Angeles County,” Ferrer said in a statement on Tuesday, adding that she anticipated more peaks “as cases, hospitalizations and deaths increase.”
The county’s previous daily high for new cases was 6,124 — which was set last week. The Department of Public Health also confirmed that a record 2,316 people with the coronavirus were hospitalized, 24% of whom were in the intensive care unit. The daily positivity rate stood at 12% on Tuesday, a five-percentage-point spike from the previous week.
In an effort to curb the spread of the coronavirus, L.A. County — which has imposed the toughest restrictions in the state — recently banned in-person dining and issued a three-week safer-at-home order that went into effect on Monday.
Ferrer urged residents and businesses to “take immediate action if we are to dampen this alarming surge.”
“We are in the middle of an accelerating surge in a pandemic of huge magnitude,” she added. “This is not the time to skirt or debate the safety measures that protect us, because we need every single person to use every tool available to stop the surge and save lives.”
Ferrer expressed concern about the transmission rate at worksites. Cases at schools among staff and students have gone up 224% since the beginning of November, and outbreaks at worksites increased by 172%. Cases among health-care professionals are up 71%, and cases among residents at nursing facilities increased by 89%.
There had been 268 cases reported so far in La Cañada Flintridge as of Wednesday. Public Health had reported 238 cases the previous week.
“The increase in cases in our community and across the county is cause for awareness for everyone to be cautious and prudent,” LCF Mayor Mike Davitt said. “As the capacity to test more people increases, it is expected to see a rise in cases. Some of the county health department’s new orders can be frustrating, and we as a city are encouraging the county to reconsider and reevaluate the recent actions. We want businesses to be able to operate and our citizens [to have] the opportunity to enjoy those businesses, while doing so in a safe manner.”
COVID-19 has become rampant throughout California, prompting Gov. Gavin Newsom to consider imposing a stay-at-home order on counties in his classification system’s purple tier — which indicates widespread infection rate. Fifty-one of 58 counties in California are currently in the most restrictive tier, and none are in the least restrictive tier.
“If these trends continue, we’re going to have to take much more dramatic, arguably drastic action, including looking at those purple-tier counties,” Newsom said on Monday.
The same day, state officials reported the seven-day average for new infections stood at 14,657. During the peak period in July, the seven-day average was 9,881.
Newsom said the state will closely monitor the hospitalization numbers and work with public health officials from each county to determine possible future restrictions. However, he said any future stay-at-home order would come “with modifications.”
The governor also stated that state officials are anticipating about 327,000 doses of a two-part vaccine from Pfizer this month, and that the second dose will likely arrive a few weeks later.
Ferrer called the vaccine a “bright light at the end of this very dark tunnel” but urged L.A. County residents to “commit today and through the next few months to be part of the solution to this terrible pandemic.
“The virus is relentless,” she added. “It will continue to be relentless until we can vaccinate the millions of residents and workers that call L.A. County their home.”

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