Los Angeles County on the Brink of New Health Orders Amid Surge in Covid Cases

Customers wearing protective masked shop the fresh produce section at Gelson’s supermarket on March 20, 2020, in the Sherman Oaks section of Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Richard Vogel)

LOS ANGELES (CN) — Over 13,000 new Covid-19 cases were reported in California on Friday, breaking a previous record set over the summer and setting a grim tone moving into the weekend ahead of Thanksgiving, likely setting up parts of the state for more health orders.

California reported 12,800 cases on July 21 at the height of an outbreak that followed the Fourth of July holiday weekend. On Friday, state health officials reported 13,005 new cases, meaning for the second time this year the Golden State is in the middle of a Covid-19 surge.

That is most evident in Los Angeles County where health officials say the county and its more than 10 million residents are on pace for a new stay-at-home order as daily cases top 4,000 for the second day in a row.

In the last three days, LA County reported over 13,000 cases and an average of 4,415 cases per day.

Of Friday’s record-breaking new cases, over 4,200 were in LA County. Starting Saturday, the county and large swaths of California that continue to see widespread infection will be under a curfew to slow the rate spread.

The recent surge across the Golden State has been most evident in LA County beginning at the start of the month.

On Nov. 1, the county reported around 1,500 confirmed Covid-19 cases, but earlier this week the daily count was nearly 4,000 and on Thursday cases topped 5,000, representing the highest daily case count on record. 

Those figures put the county on track to meet two thresholds announced by county health officials this week. If the county records a 5-day average over 4,000 cases, officials would close in-door dining at restaurants and other businesses. If the average reaches over 4,500, the county would see another stay-at-home order like the rest of the state did in mid-March.

“The data looks really bad right now,” said LA County Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer during a Friday briefing. “If this does continue, we will in fact be certainly at the point where we will exceed 4,000 cases as an average over five days.”

The outlook is grim as the most recent surge has already blown past a surge that followed the Fourth of July holiday weekend.

From June 20 to July 3, there was a 43% increase in the daily average of new cases and from late October to the second week of November there was an increase of 68%, Ferrer said.

“That number just continues to go up,” she said.

The solutions presented by public health officials are the same as they have been throughout the pandemic: avoid interactions with people who do not live in your home, wear a mask and keep clear of crowds.

Starting Saturday, the county’s health order will allow outdoor gatherings of up to 15 people wearing masks and maintaining physical distance while restaurants and bars will be under a 10 p.m. curfew in order to slow the spread of the virus.

Ferrer said she’s still not sure when a new stay-at-home order will be instituted because there’s a two-week lag between when a person is infected and when they are recorded positive by the county. That means people’s actions two weeks ago will determine if there’s a drop in confirmed cases.

“We’ve been messaging for the last three weeks now for the need for people” to slow the rate of spread in communities across the county, she said.

“Once the rates go up, it can kind of feed upon itself,” Ferrer said. “Once there are more people that are infected in the community, if everyone doesn’t buckle down and take extra precautions you now have more people that are capable of spreading and then more get infected and then you have more people capable of infecting others.”

Reported deaths from Covid-19 also run on a lag and are on the rise.

On Friday, LA County reported 35 deaths, 29 on Thursday and 36 on Wednesday, which illustrates a spike catching up to infections from earlier in the month.

Hospitalizations are also on the rise.

The number of people admitted to the hospital due to Covid-19 was roughly 1,300 as of Friday, up from 730 just a month ago.

Earlier this week, LA County’s Health Services Director Dr. Christina Ghaly said the county would likely see a surge of people admitted to hospitals due to the new cases.

That risk will increase moving into flu season and the colder weather.

Since the start of the pandemic, California has reported over one million cases, with LA County reporting more than 357,000 cases.

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