California, where health experts warn of a potential second wave of the coronavirus as the economy reopens, is seeing cases rise at a rapid clip, even as other states have seen the first wave fade, it was reported Wednesday.
Numbers compiled by Johns Hopkins University show that California is one of about 20 states where new cases are increasing over the past five days, the Los Angeles Times reported.
An analysis by The Times shows that the number of weekly cases in California continues to rise, exceeding 17,000 last week for the first time in the pandemic. There were nearly 10,000 alone in Los Angeles County alone last week, according to the analysis. L.A. County and the Southland remain the California epicenter of the coronavirus pandemic, but there have been some troubling increases in reported disease in some Bay Area counties.
Officials are not sure whether the new cases reflect a larger spike as the economy reopens or the result of increasing testing, or perhaps a combination of both, The Times reported.
L.A. County reported a notable spike in cases on Friday — 1,824 new cases — a one-day record. But it included a backlog of 500 cases filed by a single lab.
“If we do see an uptick in cases in a couple of weeks from now, it will likely mean that there has already been two to four weeks of increasing transmission by that time,” said Dr. Christina Ghaly, director of health services of L.A. County. “So at this point, we could be in the midst of a new upward curve, or transmission may not have increased at all. We just don’t know yet.”
Experts are already worried about the potential for new surges of disease as California reopens. Not only have churches and restaurant dining rooms been allowed to reopen in many parts of the state, political demonstrations in recent days have raised new concerns about rapid spread of disease.
“I’m always worried about a surge,” Barbara Ferrer, the director of public health in Los Angeles County, said Monday. “We’ve always known that as more and more people are going to be out and about, we run this risk of there being a surge.”
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that 20 to 50 percent of people infected with the coronavirus do not show symptoms of illness. But asymptomatic carriers, or “silent spreaders,” are believed to transmit disease just as easily as those with visible symptoms, according to the CDC’s best estimate.
The rise in cases comes as weekly hospitalizations and deaths are down statewide. There has been a 10 percent drop in the average number of people hospitalized daily with confirmed or suspected coronavirus infection last week compared to a month ago, from 4,859 on the week of April 27 to 4,392 last week.
L.A. County reported a notable spike in cases on Friday — 1,824 new cases — a one-day record. But it included a backlog of 500 cases filed by a single lab, The Times reported.