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LA County concerned about post-Labor Day spike in coronavirus cases

Get updates on the coronavirus in Los Angeles including new case numbers, response efforts and latest news.

LOS ANGELES (KABC) #los-angeles-ca — Los Angeles County: 261,446 cases, 6,366 deaths
Orange County: 52,201 cases, 1,128 deaths
San Bernardino County: 52,649, 908 deaths
Riverside County: 57,419 cases, 1,162 deaths
Ventura County: 11,969 cases, 143 deaths
 

MONDAY’S UPDATE: Sept. 21, 2020

Coronavirus cases and hospitalization rates have been dropping across the state, but Los Angeles County officials remain concerned about a possible spike linked to the Labor Day weekend.

Gov. Gavin Newsom said cases, positivity rates and hospitalizations have all been dropping across the state. And the number of tests conducted every day has risen, after dropping for a time because of extreme heat, wildfires and air quality. There are now about 124,000 tests conducted per day across California.

LA County health director Dr. Barbara Ferrer said she remains concerned that people may have dropped their guard over the holiday weekend. The county is seeing a spike in cases after Labor Day.

“After you see the increase in cases, that’s when another week or two later you start seeing an increase in hospitalizations and that often is followed unfortunately by an increase in deaths,” Ferrer said.
 

WEDNESDAY’S UPDATE: Sept. 16, 2020

Downward trends in coronavirus cases and testing-positivity rates could allow Los Angeles County to move into the next tier of the state’s economic-reopening matrix by sometime in October, the public health director said, but pending Labor Day numbers could potentially thwart that move.

The county is in the most restrictive, or “purple,” level of the state’s four-tier virus-tracking roadmap. The county already has a low enough seven-day average testing positivity rate — around 3.2% — to move to a less-restrictive tier, but average new case numbers are still too high, currently averaging 8.1 cases per 100,000 residents. The state threshold for advancing to the “red” tier is seven cases per 100,000. The move would allow businesses such as gyms and movie theaters to reopen with restrictions.

But public health director Barbara Ferrer said numbers in all categories have been trending downward over the past six weeks, following a spike seen after the Fourth of July holiday weekend.

“If we don’t see a surge in cases and hospitalizations associated with activities over Labor Day and we continue to reduce our rate of community transmission over the weeks ahead, we could enter tier 2, which is a less restrictive tier, sometime in October,” Ferrer said.
 

TUESDAY’S UPDATE: Sept. 15, 2020

Health officials announced another 47 coronavirus-related deaths in Los Angeles County, bringing the cumulative countywide total from throughout the pandemic to 6,273.

The county also announced another 474 new cases, lifting the overall total to 255,049. A total of 772 people were hospitalized due to the virus as of Tuesday.

L.A. County remains on the purple tier, the state’s most restrictive tier, and is trying to move into the less restrictive red tier. In total, there are 30 counties in the purple tier.

“As it relates to Los Angeles County, indeed, their transmission rates are coming down. I think it comes on the backs of a lot of really hard work from a number of people in the Los Angeles community, where we’ve seen increased testing,” said California Health and Human Services Director Dr. Mark Ghaly.

When it comes to school, Debra Duardo, superintendent for the L.A. County Office of Education, says some students are already going back in small groups. These are students with special needs or those with special education plans.

“As we are looking at the numbers throughout the county, if those numbers are coming down and the Department of Public Health gives us the go-ahead, then we will start looking at bringing our other students back, most likely in a hybrid model,” Duardo said.

State officials say they are getting numerous question about Halloween. They say children can still dress up, but going door-to-door wouldn’t be safe.

“We’re really urging people to be prepared for a different type of Halloween. As I said last week, trick-or-treating, the type of mixing that comes in our traditional trick-or-treating festivities is really not advised under COVID,” Ghaly said.
 

WEDNESDAY’S UPDATE: Sept. 9, 2020

Health officials announced another 61 coronavirus-related deaths in Los Angeles County, bringing the cumulative countywide total from throughout the pandemic to 6,090.

Los Angeles County Public Health Director Dr. Barbara Ferrer also announced another 671 new cases, lifting the overall total to 249,859.

She noted that the case number continues to be unusually low due to lags in reporting from the holiday weekend, along with the limited availability of testing due to the holiday and the excessive heat.

A total of 936 people were hospitalized due to the virus as of Wednesday, continuing a roughly monthlong decline.
 

MONDAY’S UPDATE: Sept. 6, 2020

Los Angeles County reported 798 new cases of COVID-19 and five more deaths on Monday, bringing the county’s totals to 248,334 cases and 6,005 fatalities.

Officials with the county’s Department of Public Health said the low case and deaths counts likely reflect a reporting lag due to the holiday weekend.

The number of people hospitalized in the county continued its steady decline, dropping from 984 Saturday to 966. County officials noted that figure is at least a 50% drop from the early August totals that topped 2,000.

Testing results were available for 2,373,050 individuals with 10% of all people testing positive.

Health officials continue to track the number of positive cases and deaths among health care workers, announcing a total of 87 deaths and 14,448 positive cases among health care workers and first responders in Los Angeles County.

Nurses continue to account for the majority of cases (37%) and deaths (41%) among the sector. One-third of health care workers who tested positive for the virus worked at skilled nursing and assisted living facilities and 26% worked at hospitals.

Our hearts are with all who have lost their loved ones to COVID-19, and may peace and comfort find each of you during these difficult times,” Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer said. Our thoughts are also with all the families and friends of health care workers, who worry each day about the risks their loved ones face as they care for our sick and disabled residents.

…Everyone needing care has been served by dedicated and skilled teams of front-line health care workers who are at higher risk of exposure to COVID-19 than most everyone else. This labor day holiday serves as a reminder of our collective responsibility to make sure that all health care workers have appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE), training, and access to quality health care.”

Officials continued urging residents to celebrate the Labor Day holiday safely and without large parties or gatherings, noting that spikes in cases, hospitalizations, and deaths were seen after the Memorial Day and July 4th holidays.

The county said beaches will remain open over the holiday weekend, despite concerns about large crowds that might flock to the sand to escape the heat wave expected to bake the Southland through Monday. But officials with the county Department of Beaches and Harbors warned that health restrictions remain in place, meaning beachgoers must practice social distancing and wear face coverings when not in the water, eating or drinking.

And if crowds get too large and people aren’t adhering to the guidelines, the beaches could be cleared.

We cannot stress enough the importance of following the public health guidelines,” Beaches and Harbor Director Gary Jones said in a statement. It is absolutely imperative that beachgoers avoid crowds. If the beaches get too crowded, we may be forced to close them again.”

County officials are hoping to avoid a repeat of the coronavirus setbacks experienced following the Memorial Day and Fourth of July holidays, which led to dramatic spikes in virus cases, hospitalizations and deaths. All three of those metrics have been trending downward in recent weeks in the county, and health officials have been making pleas for the past two weeks that residents avoid Labor Day parties or gatherings with people outside their own households.

Public health officials urged people to only gather with members of their household, and to use their own utensils, cups, food, and drinks and not share with others.

The county Department of Beaches and Harbors also stressed that barbecues and bonfires are prohibited at the beaches and in beach parking lots.
 

FRIDAY’S UPDATE: Sept. 4, 2020

The City of Los Angeles is closing all of its COVID-19 testing sites over Labor Day weekend due to the holiday and the heat wave.

Some pop-up testing centers will remain open.

Meantime, Los Angeles County is closing some testing centers, but some will remain open.

For more information on testing, visit covid19.lacounty.gov/testing.
 

THURSDAY’S UPDATE: Sept. 3, 2020

Los Angeles County reported 1,193 new cases of COVID-19 and 61 new deaths on Thursday. County officials are emphasizing the importance of taking preventative steps in the workplace to limit the spread of the virus.

The county is making sure that businesses and workers know the steps they are supposed to take if they have a cluster of cases within the workplace. If a business has three or more confirmed COVID-19 cases within a 14-day period, employers are required to call county Public Health immediately at: 888-397-3993.

There is also a hotline for workers and employers to anonymously report coronavirus outbreaks or other health violations by calling the Environmental Health Customer Call Center at (888)700-9995, Monday – Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., excluding holidays or go to the online complaint system.

County officials are also urging people to exercise restraint over the Labor Day holiday weekend, and avoid large gatherings. They noted that after Memorial Day, the county saw a sharp surge in COVID-19 cases.
 

WEDNESDAY’S UPDATE: Sept. 2, 2020

Officials announced on Wednesday that Los Angeles County will allow some in-person instruction to resume for students in kindergarten through 12th grade, but only for small groups of students with individualized learning plans, students requiring instruction for English as a second language and students needing other specialized in-school services.”

All other students will still be limited to remote learning.

Los Angeles County officials said indoor hair salons and barbershops can resume operating, but limited to 25% of capacity. The county is still not authorizing the reopening of indoor shopping malls, even though new state guidelines that took effect Monday allow those malls to open with capacity limited to 25%.

Individual counties can impose regulations that are stricter than the state guidelines. Malls in some other counties, including Orange County, began reopening Monday.

Los Angeles County Supervisors Janice Hahn and Hilda Solis said that while hair salons and barbershops will have to adhere to the 25% capacity limit, officials plan to review the operations after Labor and consider possibly increasing the limit.

The county has seen downward trends in coronavirus cases, deaths and hospitalizations in recent weeks, and officials appear to be taking a cautious approach to reopenings of new businesses to avoid a repeat of earlier spikes.

County Health Officer Dr. Muntu Davis announced another 51 COVID-19 deaths Wednesday, although one of those fatalities was reported Tuesday by Long Beach health officials. Long Beach and Pasadena each reported five additional deaths Wednesday.

The new fatalities increased the overall death toll in the county since the pandemic began to 5,888.

Davis said that 22 of Wednesday’s fatalities reported by the county were people over the age of 80. Strikingly, two of the deaths were people between the ages of 18 and 29 who had no underlying health conditions.

Meanwhile, there were 1,457 new cases announced by the county, along with 54 by Long Beach and 15 by Pasadena, bringing the cumulative figure to 244,004.

Davis said that more than 2.3 million people have been tested countywide, with 10% testing positive.

He also said there have been 1,589 cases involving people experiencing homelessness.

According to the county, the seven-day average daily number of new cases has dropped to 1,300, continuing a steady decline. Health officials have been reporting downward trends in new cases, deaths and hospitalizations — with 1,048 people hospitalized with the virus as of Wednesday.

Solis urged residents to continue to be diligent in following health guidelines over Labor Day weekend to prevent a resurgence of the virus. The Department of Public Health has been trying to promote that message for several days, particularly with hot weather expected over the long holiday weekend.

The Fourth of July and Memorial Day holiday weekends both resulted in dramatic spikes in coronavirus cases in the county.

City News Service contributed to this report.
 

TUESDAY’S UPDATE: Sept. 1, 2020

Although state guidelines are allowing the reopening of some businesses like hair salons, Los Angeles County officials are taking a more cautious approach, not allowing them to reopen just yet.

Additionally, county health officials are reminding residents it is time to get vaccinated for influenza. Officials say limiting flu cases will help keep the strain off the local health system as it continues to deal with thousands of COVID-19 cases.