Pre-Labor Day warnings about the continuing danger of coronavirus continued Thursday, with Los Angeles County’s chief medical officer urging residents to take health precautions and asking business owners to implement infection-control measures to prevent workplace outbreaks.
But while continuing to warn of the dangers of holiday parties, Dr. Jeffrey Gunzenhauser appeared to concede that such gatherings will almost inevitably occur — like they did on Memorial Day and the Fourth of July — so he asked people to keep them small.
“Perhaps instead of inviting 25 people over, only invite 10,” he said. “Obviously we don’t recommend or support any gatherings, but we know that some of these are happening. We ask everyone to consider the risk that it introduces.”
Gunzenhauser stressed the dangers that are inherent in any gathering of people, and said residents need to recognize the risks of virus transmission.
“I think it’s critical that as all of you consider participating in any new activity over the upcoming holiday, or as some work sites reopen in the weeks ahead, you should consider and recognize that every new activity you participate in that might involve other people poses some risk that you may get infected,” he said. “For example, if you have 10 guests over to your house over the holiday, you’re adding risk that any of those guests could introduce the COVID-19 virus into your family.”
Gunzenhauser pushed a message of balance, saying that as people engage in one type of potentially risky behavior, they should eliminate another activity that might put them or others at risk.
“If you’re considering starting something new, a new activity — going back to work or going out into a place where there may be other people for any reason — we recommend you consider changing something else, some other activity in your life to compensate for this increased risk,” he said.
“… Unless we all take actions to continue to minimize the risk of transmitting this virus to one another, we raise the risk this horrible disease could surge again in the months ahead,” Gunzenhauser said. “And we must do everything we can to avoid that.”
Gunzenhauser presented charts tracking numbers of outbreaks that have occurred during the pandemic, noting that the Memorial Day and Fourth of July holidays both led to significant increases, thanks to holiday gatherings and the reopening of businesses that occurred around the same time.
“We believe that increased gatherings and crowding that occurred during those holidays contributed in a large way to the outbreaks that occurred in work settings in the weeks that followed those holidays,” he said. “It’s very important for everyone to recognize this and to consider once again that we have another holiday right before us. As Labor Day approaches, let’s all remember why we celebrate this holiday and take the extra measures that are necessary to protect the health and safety of all of our workers.”
He offered a series of tips for employers, including:
— allow employees to stay home if they’re feeling sick;
— modify workplaces to ensure distancing among employees and customers;
— provide face coverings to all employees and regular breaks so they can wash their hands;
— post large, clearly visible signs outlining the need for infection-control measures;
— train employees on safety measures;
— have extra face coverings available for customers who might not have one;
— encourage contact-less transactions; and
— report outbreaks as soon as possible.
As of mid-afternoon, the county had not yet released its latest coronavirus figures.
On Wednesday, the county announced 51 COVID-19 deaths, while health officials in Long Beach and Pasadena each reported five. Those new fatalities increased the overall death toll in the county since the pandemic began to 5,888.
There were also 1,457 new cases announced by the county Wednesday, along with 54 by Long Beach and 15 by Pasadena, bringing the cumulative figure to 244,004.
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.