For the second day in a row, Los Angeles County reported more than 1,200 new coronavirus cases, continuing a three-day string of elevated numbers that could further stall efforts to reopen more sectors of the local economy.
The county announced 1,256 new cases Friday, down slightly from the 1,280 announced on Thursday. The county on Wednesday reported 1,645 new cases, the highest numbers seen since Aug. 22.
Health officials said this week they would be closely monitoring the case numbers, but said the elevated numbers should be a reminder that COVID-19 is still spreading in the community.
The 1,256 cases announced by the county, along with 45 reported by health officials in Long Beach and five by Pasadena, lifted the cumulative countywide total since the start of the pandemic to 279,959.
The county also reported another 13 coronavirus-related deaths Friday, although one of those fatalities was actually announced Thursday afternoon by Pasadena’s health department. The new deaths increased the countywide total to 6,741.
Los Angeles County Department of Public Health officials also announced one additional confirmed case of multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children, or MIS-C, bringing the overall number of cases of the rare malady to 41 in the county. The condition, which has been linked to COVID-19 exposure, results in inflammation of bodily organs.
Nearly half of the children who contracted the syndrome in Los Angeles County had to be treated in an intensive-care unit, but there have been no reported deaths in the county from the illness.
With more businesses reopening in the past week, health officials urged customers and business owners to adhere to all safety protocols when patronizing restaurants or other merchants. According to the county, 118 virus outbreaks in businesses or workplaces were opened in the past two weeks alone. Since Sunday, the county has issued 125 citations to businesses for failing to comply with health protocols, and an undisclosed number were actually closed due to “significant health and safety concerns or violations” of health orders.
No details were released on business closures.
After months of closure, indoor shopping malls were permitted to reopen Wednesday, though limited at 25% of capacity and with food courts and common areas remaining closed. That follows nail salons, which were permitted to reopen indoors last week; card rooms, which were allowed to open outdoors on Monday; and outdoor playgrounds, which were cleared to reopen at the discretion of individual cities.
The county this week also began accepting waiver applications from schools that want to offer in-person instruction for pre-kindergarten through second-grade students. Ferrer said about 26 schools have submitted waiver requests so far.
On Tuesday, the county quietly authorized breweries and wineries that don’t have their own kitchens to reopen for outdoor service, provided they partner with a third-party food provider. All alcohol sales for on-site consumption at breweries and wineries must be accompanied by a “bona fide meal” purchase. Customers must be seated at tables, and they must make a reservation at least one day in advance, under the health order.
As of Friday, there were 724 people hospitalized in the county due to the virus. That’s up from 709 on Thursday, 696 on Wednesday, 685 on Tuesday and 674 on Monday. Health officials acknowledged that the number has been on the rise this week, but the total has remained below 800 since mid-September — well below the 2,000-plus numbers seen in July.
Los Angeles County is still in the strictest level of the state’s four-tier economic-reopening roadmap. The county’s recent testing positivity rate is low enough to qualify the county to move up to a less-restrictive tier, but the average daily number of new cases needs to drop to about 700 per day before any movement will occur.
As of Wednesday, the county’s rate of new cases per 100,000 residents was averaging 7.4, slightly above the limit of 7 needed to move out of the state’s restrictive “purple” tier.