LOS ANGELES (CNS) — With holiday weekend gatherings looming — accompanied by a heatwave that will keep many people indoors — the Los Angeles County director of public health again preached caution about the spread of COVID-19 on Friday, despite falling local transmission rates .
what you need to know
- The county officially entered the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention “low” level of COVID-19 activity on Thursday
- The official infection rate on Thursday was around 193 new cases per 100,000 inhabitants
- The county reported an additional 2,705 new cases on Friday, bringing the cumulative total throughout the pandemic to 3,413,783
- Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer not only urged caution about the spread of the virus over Labor Day weekend, but also urged residents to protect themselves from the heat
The county officially entered the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s “low” COVID-19 activity level on Thursday, due to the falling infection rate and the continued slower pace of new virus-related hospitalizations.
“As we all look forward to celebrating Labor Day and expressing our deep appreciation to the many hardworking people in our county, this Bank Holiday weekend we face the twin challenges of the continued spread of COVID and the very intense heat in most LA County regions,” Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer said in a statement. “With the extreme heat, it will make sense for many to move gatherings indoors. When you gather indoors, you can maximize ventilation by opening windows and doors, using air filters, and tuning HVAC systems to maximize fresh air exchange. It is also advisable wear a mask when gathering indoors with people whose COVID status is unknown.”
The CDC placed Los Angeles County in the “low” category when the average rate of new COVID infections fell below the 200 per 100,000 population threshold. The official infection rate on Thursday was around 193 new cases per 100,000 inhabitants.
The number of hospitalizations in the county also remained low, with the average daily rate of new virus-related admissions estimated at 9 per 100,000 residents — below the CDC threshold of 10 per 100,000 residents.
These statistics were good enough to put the county out of the “moderate” activity category. The move has no practical implications for residents as it will not trigger any changes to public health protocols as most restrictions are already lifted.
“The move to the low-level community reflects minimal stress on LA County’s hospital care system related to COVID-19,” Ferrer said during an online briefing Thursday. “However, with a case rate of just under 200, viral transmission is still high as it represents around 2,600 new cases per day. Our hope is that we can further slow transmission so that we can achieve a weekly case rate of less than 100, which would bring the daily number of new cases down to 1,400.”
Ferrer has also noted that the official number of new cases reported each day understates actual virus activity in the county, as many people rely on home testing, the results of which are not reported to the county.
The county reported an additional 2,705 new cases on Friday, bringing the cumulative total throughout the pandemic to 3,413,783. Another 16 virus-related deaths were reported, giving the county a total death toll of 33,187.
The average daily rate of people testing positive for the virus was 7.8% on Friday.
According to government figures, there were 788 COVID-positive patients in county hospitals as of Friday, up from 760 on Thursday. Of these patients, 91 were treated in intensive care, a slight increase from 90 the day before.
Ferrer said the number of hospitalizations this week could be slightly off due to a flaw in the data reporting system hospitals use to share COVID patient counts with the state.
Health officials said about 43% of COVID-positive hospitalized patients were actually admitted for virus-related illnesses, while the others were admitted for other reasons, with some not realizing they were infected until they were tested at the hospital.
In addition to urging caution about the spread of the virus over Labor Day weekend, Ferrer urged residents to stay safe from the heat on Friday.
“In light of the intense heat we are experiencing, we ask everyone to do their part to look after those most vulnerable by looking after their friends, family and neighbours,” she said in a statement. “Older adults, babies and people with underlying health problems are particularly vulnerable to heat stress. Please never leave children, pets or the elderly in parked cars, even for a few minutes. Be sure to drink plenty of water and see a doctor take care of yourself or someone who has symptoms of a heat-related illness.
“Refrigeration centers will be open across the county and many are already open. Spending a few hours in a cool environment can be life-saving when the temperature is high. Because we enjoy connecting with family and friends, taking these steps along with other measures can keep our celebrations safer from COVID and the extreme heat.”