On a day that saw the governor order a renewed round of business restrictions due to spiking coronavirus cases, Los Angeles County’s public health director said Monday the pandemic is on an “alarming” path locally, but widespread adherence to infection-control measures can again slow the virus’ spread.
“I know this step back in our recovery journey is disheartening, but we must do everything in our power to stop the virus from spreading, from making the people we love sick and from causing untimely deaths,” Barbara Ferrer said. “These steps are taken in hopes that we get back to slowing the spread. All of our actions and behaviors now help determine what our lives, our communities and our economy will be like in the months ahead.”
Ferrer said the pace of key metrics — including increases in COVID-19 infections, hospitalizations and positivity rates — “is pointing to an alarming trend.”
“Our data shows us that every day, thousands of people in our communities are being infected with COVID-19 and our friends, families and neighbors are being hospitalized at a much higher rate,” she said. “While our death rate has remained relatively stable, we anticipate that unfortunately with the rise in hospitalizations we will soon see corresponding increases in the number of people who pass away.”
Ferrer on Monday reported a relatively small increase in the number of deaths in the county from coronavirus — 13 — while Long Beach added two more fatalities, bringing the overall county total to 3,822.
Ferrer reported another 2,593 confirmed cases, while Long Beach announced another 228 cases and Pasadena added 27. The new cases lifted the countywide total to 136,384.
Most recent figures showed that more than 2,000 people were hospitalized in the county due to the coronavirus, among the highest number of the pandemic to date.
The county’s overall rate of people testing positive remained at about 9% overall during the pandemic, but as of Sunday, the average daily positivity rate over the past seven days was at 10%.
The coronavirus news of the day was grim overall, beginning with the Los Angeles Unified School District announcing that its campuses will remain closed when the new school year begins Aug. 18, meaning students will continue to take solely online courses.
An hour later, Gov. Gavin Newsom announced a rollback of business reopenings due to surging positivity rates and hospitalization numbers across the state. Newsom ordered a halt to all indoor operations at gyms, places of worship, hair salons and personal-care services such as nail salons, massage businesses and tattoo parlors. The new order also bars indoor activity at malls and prevents indoor political protests.
The order affects all counties on the state’s monitoring list due to spiking numbers such as hospitalizations and positivity rates. Los Angeles and Orange counties are both on that list.
Ferrer, trying to break down the recent spike in cases, displayed a charge showing that workplaces that have been allowed to reopen in recent weeks are the primary source of infections, including businesses such as warehouses, manufacturing plants, nail services, distribution centers, waste management and retail.
“What this tells us is clear, that business owners and operators must take their employee health needs seriously and they must heed the public health directives, because as we’ve reopened, we’ve seen the sharpest increase in workplace outbreaks,” Ferrer said.
Ferrer tried to offer some encouragement to residents, saying if they do their part to control the spread of the virus by adhering to social-distancing requirements, wearing face coverings and avoiding large gatherings, the virus can be slowed again.
“I know that today’s news is disappointing,” she said. “… I just want to note that we flattened the curve before and I know we can do it again. Stay at home as much as you can. If you do need to go out for work or important errands, please remember that you must wear your face covering and it must cover both your mouth and your nose.
“… If we continue to make these adjustments, which we’ve all done before, we will start seeing i believe a decrease in the number of new cases, hospitalizations and deaths,” Ferrer said. “That means in creating this new normal, we actually are allowed to continue our recovery journey. But it is truly a community effort. We have the power to slow the devastating spread of the virus if we all decide we want to do our part.”
Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti said Monday during his COVID-19 update that the city is “on the border” of raising its COVID-19 emergency status to “red,” which would mean people could only leave their homes for essential goods and travel to work.
“Red is when it’s everything shuts down again, everything to our strictest level, and so I do want to warn people that we’re close to that,” Garcetti said.
Los Angeles is currently at “orange,” the second-highest threat level on the city’s indicator.
“It is up to all of us to make sure that we don’t (go to red),” Garcetti said. “Outdoor activities are, as we’ve learned in this, considered safer, including outdoor dining, which remains open. But if you do an outdoor activity, please do it either by yourself or with other members of your household. Please do not get together with others that you do not live with.”