Los Angeles County Coronavirus Update: Near-Record Number Of New Cases, Even As Number Of Tests Declines

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After announcing a record number of COVID-19 cases yesterday, county public health director Barbara Ferrer announced that the number of cases identified in Los Angeles County in the past 24 hours has skyrocketed.
According to the Health Department, there were 1633 new cases in the county on Friday. This is the third highest total since the onset of the outbreak, according to the LA County Coronavirus Dashboard. Ferrer said the number on Friday included 500 late laboratory cases.
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Laboratory delays occurred almost every week during the pandemic. Adding late numbers to the daily total was the order of the day for the county health department, which means that not every day has late numbers, but enough to make these record levels seem significant.
The number on Friday did not include any new cases from Pasadena and Long Beach that have their own health departments. On Thursday there were a total of 84 new cases.
The new data bring the total number of confirmed cases in LA County to 70,475.
On Thursday, the county health ministry reported 1,857 new confirmed coronavirus cases. It was the largest number of new cases in a day announced by the county during the pandemic, but health officials reiterated that approximately 600 of these cases were the result of a backlog in reporting test results. Long Beach and Pasadena, which have their own health departments, together confirmed a further 84 cases. That gave the county a total of 1,941 new confirmed cases on Thursday.
The peaks come about two weeks after the change in the order of staying at home in the region and after the recent major gatherings during protests.
As a rule, increased tests - which is good - are responsible for a higher fall rate. However, Ferrer's slides on Friday showed a drop in testing over the past few days, which would dampen the theory that increased testing is responsible for the rise in new cases.
There may be another, more worrying number. When asked how high the current “R” - or the effective transmission rate - is, Ferrer declined.
But Dr. Christina Ghaly, chief health officer of L.A. County, later told the press conference that R "is only slightly above 1. I would say 1.2." She said that models R show constant and stable at this rate of 1.2 until early July. Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti said it was close to 1.3 earlier this week.
With an R of 1, each infected person only passes the virus on to another person, and the number of infected remains constant. From 1, the number of infected people increases. At the height of the pandemic in LA, R 3 was.
But small differences, according to Ghaly, can still make a big difference in the availability of hospital beds over time.
The large increase in cases is due to the fact that a revised district health ordinance comes into force that enables the county to resume film and television production. LA Mayor Eric Garcetti said the city would also allow production to restart.
Last week, Dr. Ghaly noted that the number "R" seemed to be increasing slightly. Based on the modeling, Ghaly then warned: "The number of beds in the intensive care unit could become insufficient. The DHS monitors this number very closely every day."
On Friday, Ghaly said the concern is still real.
Ghaly emphasized that the department works with private and public hospitals across the county to help them increase ICU beds and allocate more PSA.
Ferrer showed slides on Friday, indicating that the hospitals had adequate supplies of both
When asked whether the county was moving too quickly with the reopening given the numbers and the modeling, Director Ferrer said, "If sectors are opened with the right protocols, this can be done safely ... But it depends a lot on which companies do their part.
"We are watching to make sure we don't see any indicators that make us take a break ... or introduce restrictions," said Ferrer.
The City News Service contributed to this report.
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