LA County Sets New Daily Record for Coronavirus Cases

A security guard stands in front of a coronavirus-themed mural in the arts district of Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)

(CN) — Marking a new daily high, Los Angeles County health officials on Tuesday reported 4,015 new coronavirus cases along with continued increases in hospitalizations and testing positivity rates in California’s most populous county.

County officials attributed part of the spike to a backlog of tests conducted over the weekend but warned the nearly 2,000 people currently hospitalized — up from 1,350 three weeks ago — reflects the virus’ persistent spread in the county of 10 million.

LA County Public Health director Barbara Ferrer implored people to wear masks and avoid crowded spaces to help stunt the escalating outbreak.   

“Choosing to not practice physical distancing or objecting to wearing cloth face coverings when around others can be a life-altering decision. Everyone shares the collective responsibility to slow the spread of Covid-19, to prevent an overwhelming surge of Covid-19, to save lives,” Ferrer said during a pandemic briefing.

Ferrer said the county’s seven-day positivity rate — the number of positive cases among residents receiving Covid-19 tests, a key indicator of community spread of the virus — has risen to 11.6%, and that 9% of the over 1.2 million tests conducted since the pandemic began have been positive.

Along with 531 infected people currently in county intensive care units, the public health department also announced 46 new deaths, raising the county’s coronavirus death toll to 3,579. According to county statistics, 93% of people who died from the virus had an underlying condition.

The virus has also hit the Latino community hard — they account for 44% of the county’s deaths. White residents account for 27% of the county’s Covid deaths, while Asian residents and black residents account for 16% and 11% of the deaths, respectively.

LA has been a hotspot for several months with more confirmed cases and deaths than any of California’s 58 counties, but the virus has also ravaged neighboring Orange County which also set a daily record Monday with 1,028 confirmed new cases. Orange County’s positivity rate currently sits at 14.2% with a majority of its 18,890 cases attributed to people under the age of 45.

Both counties are among the 23 currently on a state watchlist due to their recent spike in cases and in some cases shrinking hospital capacity.

“This pandemic is still in front of us and continues to spread at rates we have not experienced in the state of California since the beginning of this pandemic,” Governor Gavin Newsom said Monday.

In the northern part of the state, San Francisco officials put the brakes on reopening plans Tuesday as infections and hospitalizations rise.

Bars, restaurants and other businesses were slated to begin offering indoor services on July 13, but officials have temporarily delayed their reopening.

The city says the decision was made to keep San Francisco off the governor’s watchlist, noting the number of new cases per day per 100,000 residents had risen to 6.1 — above the target of 1.8. Several other San Francisco Bay Area counties have been placed on the list, including Contra Costa, Marin and Solano. 

“We know the pause on reopening is disappointing, but it is in the best interest of public health,” said Mayor London Breed in a statement. “We’ll continue to make decisions based on the data and the situation in our city, and in the meantime, we all need to do our part to keep each other safe and healthy. That means wearing face coverings, keeping your distance from others, and getting tested. We know that is what is needed in order to get us to a place where we can safely resume reopening.”

San Francisco has reported a total 4,020 Covid-19 cases and 50 deaths and says its hospital capacity is “within acceptable range.”

Governor Newsom didn’t give a press briefing Tuesday, but that didn’t keep the California Department of Public Health from releasing another grim statewide update.

The state identified 6,090 new cases in the past 24 hours with a total of 5,989 hospitalizations. The state reported 111 new deaths, up from 24 who died over the holiday weekend. California now has over 282,000 confirmed coronavirus cases, according to Johns Hopkins University — second to New York with 398,000.

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