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Coronavirus Los Angeles update August 17: Hospitalizations continue to decline

LOS ANGELES (KABC) — Here are the current numbers of novel coronavirus cases in Los Angeles County and across Southern California:Los Angeles County: 223,131 confirmed cases, 5,273 deaths

Orange County: 43,709 cases, 810 deaths
Riverside County: 45,662 confirmed cases, 881 deaths
San Bernardino County: 41,124 cases, 568 deaths
Ventura County: 9,090 cases, 95 deaths
San Diego County: 34,678 cases, 626 deaths
Stay up to date with more coronavirus resources and the latest news

MONDAY’S UPDATE: August 17, 2020

Los Angeles County health officials confirmed 19 additional deaths and 1,185 new COVID-19 cases on Monday, bringing the total cases to 223,131 and 5,273 deaths. There are also 1,341 patients currently hospitalized. Los Angeles County Public Health Director Dr. Barbara Ferrer noted that the numbers of new cases and deaths are typically lower early in the week due to reduced testing and reporting over the weekend.

Dr. Ferrer on Monday hailed work by residents and businesses to slow the spread of COVID-19, noting that the county now meets five of the state’s six coronavirus-monitoring benchmarks.

But she warned that reckless behavior such as large gatherings, parties and indoor church services could threaten that recovery effort.

“We know that a person can be positive for COVID-19 and able to transmit the virus to others without ever, ever having any symptoms, or even being aware that they are infected,” Barbara Ferrer said. “If this person attends a gathering, especially indoors, where they’re socializing, eating, drinking, potentially not wearing a face covering or distancing, they can easily infect many other people who are at the gathering doing the same.”

“We have many examples here in our county and across the country of gatherings, parties and services that did result in outbreaks of COVID-19,” she said. “We’ve seen outbreaks on college campuses, fraternity and sorority houses, restaurants, from our protests, churches and at people’s homes all across the country and some of these gatherings have resulted in tragic loss of life and serious illness.”

Ferrer declined to comment on specifics of a legal battle the county is waging with a Sun Valley church that defied health orders on Sunday and held an indoor worship service. But she said such gatherings are equally as dangerous.

“We do continue to extend our hand to every single faith-based organization and do our utmost to help you and your congregants find acceptable ways of worshiping outdoors,” she said. “Many houses of worship are already doing this and we thank you for your efforts. It’s a wonderful show of fellowship and concern for our community.”

Ferrer continued to express overall optimism about the positive trends in most coronavirus-tracking measures. She said the county now meets six of the state’s benchmarks, falling short only in the rate of new cases, which stands at a 14-day daily average of 295 new cases per 100,000 residents. The state benchmark is 100 or less.

But Ferrer said the county meets other benchmarks for drops in hospitalizations, the seven-day average positivity rate — now at 6%, testing capacity and availability of intensive-care unit beds and ventilators.

Until the county can meet all six state benchmarks, it will remain on the state’s monitoring list, which prevents reopening of schools and many businesses. As of Monday morning, 42 of the 58 counties in the state were on the list, although San Diego County is expected to be removed by Tuesday, according to Gov. Gavin Newsom.

The countywide total number of cases since the pandemic began was 223,131 as of Monday.

Despite the continued reporting of new cases and deaths, Ferrer praised the work of residents to adhere to restrictions by wearing face coverings and practicing social distancing.

“I hope this data reminds all of us of the power our actions have in preventing serious illness and saving lives, and again I want to just say how grateful I am for everyone who’s doing their part to make sure we slow the spread of COVID-19,” Ferrer said. “We do still have a ways to go to reduce community transmission enough to be able to have confidence that the timing would be right to reopen our schools and get more people back to work.

“We don’t want infections from the community coming back into our schools and creating an increase of outbreaks that then increases the amount of community transmission we’re going to see.”

City News Service contributed to this report.

THURSDAY’S UPDATE: August 13, 2020

During a virtual briefing on Thursday, Los Angeles County health officials addressed recovery efforts related to COVID-19 and how different groups have been impacted by the virus.

Officials continue to monitor racial and economic disparities, saying recovery will not work if those gaps are not closed. One area where the county has seen improvement is testing. Areas with high levels of poverty have higher testing rates. Black and Latino communities have been the hardest hit on all fronts. Latinos have seen the highest hospitalization and case rates. Data shows a steep climb in July.

Health officials say the workplace is a key area to look at, with many people of color working essential jobs.

The county says it is working with employers and on enforcement of health officer orders, as well as encouraging them to come up with testing plans for employees.

Los Angeles city and county both offer mobile testing sites.

Health officials also reported 64 additional deaths and 1,999 new cases on Thursday, bringing the total fatalities in the region to 5,171 and 216,139 confirmed cases in Los Angeles County. There were 1,481 hospitalizations reported.

WEDNESDAY’S UPDATE: August 12, 2020

Health officials in Los Angeles County confirmed 58 deaths additional deaths and 2,428 new COVID-19 cases on Wednesday, bringing the total deaths to 5,109 and cases to 214,197.

MONDAY’S UPDATE: August 10, 2020

Los Angeles County health officials confirmed 19 additional deaths and 1,920 new COVID-19 cases on Monday, bringing the total cases to 210,424 and 4,996 deaths.

Public Health Director Dr. Barbara Ferrer said Los Angeles County accounted for over 50% of cumulative COVID-19 cases in the state. The figure has dropped below 37%. After climbing in late July, the positivity rate has declined and Ferrer also reported a slight daily decline in hospitalizations.

Dr. Ferrer said officials released protocols for youth sports last week that aligned with the state’s guidance. The protocols allow for youth sports teams to resume activities that include training conditioning and skill building — with no contact. During those activities, they need to maintain a physical distance of six feet, eight feet during periods of “heavy exertion.” Players, coaches and parents must wear a face covering at all times, unless swimming, eating or drinking, or during times of heavy exertion that that is consistent with the state’s guidance.

She also said the sharing of sports equipment among teammates is discouraged whenever possible, the sharing of any personal items is prohibited, including water bottles and uniforms.

Dr. Ferrer said if players need to share equipment among other players to sanitize between uses. She encouraged frequent breaks to allow for adequate time for hand hygiene, which is either allowing players to wash their hands or to use a hand sanitizer.

SUNDAY’S UPDATE: August 9, 2020

Los Angeles County health officials confirmed 10 additional deaths and 1,789 new COVID-19 cases on Saturday. The latest figures do not include a backlog from the state that has been disclosed recently. Those backlog numbers are expected to be added to the totals over upcoming days. The virus continues to impact the county’s younger residents, with 69% of the new cases reported Sunday occurring in people under age 50.

SATURDAY’S UPDATE: August 8, 2020

Los Angeles County health officials confirmed 51 additional deaths and 2,645 new COVID-19 cases on Saturday.

The county totals stand at 206,761 cases and 4,967 deaths.

Officials said while the latest numbers are high, hospitalizations continue to decline. There were 1,610 confirmed COVID-19 patients hospitalized; 31% are confirmed cases in the ICU.

FRIDAY’S UPDATE: August 7, 2020

Los Angeles County public health officials on Friday confirmed an additional 53 deaths and 3,116 new COVID-19 cases.

Officials noted that reported case numbers may not be accurately reflected as a glitch as led to a backlog of between 250,000 and 300,000 unprocessed health records across California, many of them test results.

The issue has been fixed, but working through the backlog is expected to take 24 to 48 hours, officials say.

However, other key indicators that track the county’s coronavirus status, such as hospitalizations and deaths, are not affected by the reporting issue.

There are currently 1,680 individuals hospitalized with the virus, which officials say shows a downward trend in the number of daily hospitalizations. Those figures are compared to last week, when the county reported more than 2,000 hospitalizations a day.

THURSDAY’S UPDATE: August 6, 2020

The city of Los Angeles is working to add more small testing sites throughout the city. Mayor Eric Garcetti says the latest effort is a partnership with the testing company Curative to add small kiosks to local neighborhoods, which will make the testing experience almost like using a self-serve vending machine. The company is running a test program with kiosks in Berkeley right now. Another plan to add testing will be through mobile vans that will drive around the city to provide testing services.

In the meantime, LA County has passed the milestone of 200,000 cases and is nearing 5,000 deaths. The county reported 3,290 new cases on Thursday and 48 new deaths. Some of those new cases are the result of a backlog of results from one lab. Nearly 1.86 million people have been tested in LA County with a 10% positivity rate.

The county has opened thousands of investigations into businesses and others violating health protocols and closure orders, and acted to shut down 27 bars and restaurants as well as 76 other businesses like nail salons and gyms.

WEDNESDAY’S UPDATE: August 5, 2020

Disturbed by reports of a large party at a mansion in the hills, Mayor Eric Garcetti announced a new measure designed to crack down on party houses and other venues that violate health orders.

If a large party is held at a home or business in violation of health orders, the Department of Water and Power will be authorized to shut off utility service at the property, Garcetti said.

The shutdown will take place after police verify a large, illegal party is being held. The shutdown process can take up to 48 hours.

“These large house parties have essentially become nightclubs in the hills,” Garcetti said.

Garcetti specified the orders were not intended to target small gatherings in homes.

“These are focused on the people determined to break the rules, posing significant public dangers and a threat to all of us” Garcetti said.

The mayor made the announcement as he also said there have been more than 1 million coronavirus tests conducted in the city of Los Angeles, and 1.8 million in the county. The positivity rate on those tests is about 10% in the county and 7.1% in the city. Overall, he said, the city is seeing a decline in cases and hospitalizations since the mid-July peak.

TUESDAY’S UPDATE: August 4, 2020

L.A. County’s COVID-19 case count has been underreported due to a state technical problem, but the issue has not impacted data on hospitalizations, which county officials said continues to decrease.

A team is now working on contacting 81 labs to get coronavirus test results from July 26 to the present to obtain the correct number of positive cases during that time period. Officials said they are implementing a system for labs to report positive test results to the department “immediately” to ensure a correct count and help to contact trace.

Health and Human Services Secretary Dr. Mark Ghaly, California’s top health official, said Tuesday a technical problem has caused a lag in California’s tally of coronavirus test results.

“This issue has undercounted the County’s positive cases and affects the number of COVID-19 cases reported each day and our contact tracing efforts,” a statement from L.A. County’s Department of Public Health said.

Officials added the lag should not delay lab results for patients since test results are reported directly to providers and hospitals.

“Public Health has noted issues with the State electronic lab reporting system for about two weeks,” the county said. “Once the data reporting issues are fixed, the number of cases is expected to increase.”

Hospitalization data has not been impacted by the technical problem, county officials said. Confirmed cases in the hospital is at 1,757, and 31% of those are in the ICU. Last week, daily hospitalizations were more than 2,000 patients last week.

“Hospitalization data for Los Angeles County still shows a decrease, and we continue to be cautiously optimistic that our efforts over the past few weeks may be starting to slow the spread,” Health Director Barbara Ferrer said in a statement.

MONDAY’S UPDATE: August 3, 2020

After a disturbing surge in coronavirus cases in mid-July, LA County is starting to see numbers go back down slightly, officials said Monday. The county’s overall case rate is still higher than it was at the start of July and still high enough to remain on the state watchlist – but it’s not as bad as it was about two weeks ago, county health director Dr. Barbara Ferrer said.

The county started July with an average of around 2,300 new cases per day, she said. That number then surged well over 3,000 cases per day in mid-July. But as the month ended, the average fell to around 2,500 cases per day. Ferrer said that is an indicator that business closures and mask enforcement measures are helping to limit the spread.

Based on the county’s population, the case rate is about 355 per 100,000 people – a drop from last week, when it was 400 per 100,000. But to get off the state’s watchlist, the number will have to go below 100 cases per 100,000, she said.

“We still have a ways to go to reduce community transmission,” Ferrer said.

SUNDAY’S UPDATE: August 2, 2020

Los Angeles police officers are doing their part to slow the spread of coronavirus, passing out face coverings on Hollywood Boulevard on Sunday morning.

The police department says this is an opportunity for officers to educate the public on the importance of wearing a face covering.

A handful of other local cities have fines in place for anyone not wearing a mask.

And on Sunday, health officials reported 23 additional deaths due to the coronavirus and 1,476 new cases in Los Angeles County. To date, officials have confirmed a total of 192,167 positive cases and a total of 4,692 deaths.

Meantime, in an effort to ramp up COVID-19 testing, the city of Los Angeles has deployed pop-up testing centers across the city, including a new one outside the William Mead Homes near Chinatown.

Community members can walk up to these sites from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. for a free test.

The Chinatown testing site was promoted by L.A. City Councilmember Gil Cedillo, who represents a section of L.A. that’s been particularly hard hit by the virus.

RELATED: LA County updates from the month of July are available here.

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