Los Angeles County has reported another 64 deaths due to the coronavirus but a lack of results from a large lab resulted in an unusually low number — 1,003 — of newly confirmed cases of COVID-19.
The 64 fatalities, along with five reported by health officials in Long Beach, lifted the countywide total since the start of the pandemic to 5,340.
With the county reporting 1,003 new cases and Long Beach adding 59 more and Pasadena reporting 15, the countywide cumulative total of confirmed cases rose to 224,105.
The county Department of Public Health blamed Tuesday’s low number of newly confirmed cases on missing reports from “one of the larger” testing labs. The county is also still awaiting final numbers from a state backlog caused by a computer glitch that could impact some of the testing data from the past two to three weeks.
Despite that uncertainty, health officials have remained optimistic that downward trends seen in recent weeks in case numbers will not be dramatically impacted. Public health director Barbara Ferrer said Tuesday the county now complies with five of the state’s six benchmarks measuring efforts to slow the spread of the virus.
The county has most notably seen a dramatic drop in hospitalizations due to COVID-19, with 1,352 patients reported as of Tuesday. Health officials said hospitalization numbers have dropped 37% in the past month, with patient numbers averaging about 2,200 in mid-July.
As of Tuesday, more than 2.1 million people have been tested for the virus in the county. The overall positivity rate throughout the pandemic remains at about 10%, but the most recent seven-day average of positive tests is about 6%, Ferrer said Monday.
The only state benchmark the county is not meeting is the 14-day daily average of new cases per 100,000 residents. The county is currently averaging about 295 new cases per 100,000 residents, while the state benchmark is 100 or less. Until the county can reach that mark, it will remain on the state’s coronavirus monitoring list, which prevents schools and additional businesses from reopening.
In a statement Tuesday, Ferrer again urged residents to continue practicing social distancing and adhering to other health protocols to continue slowing the virus spread.
“As we work together to prevent more illness and death from COVID-19, it is important to note that while testing can help identify people who are infected, testing alone cannot prevent all transmission,” Ferrer said. “Individuals who test positive are capable of infecting others 48 hours before they have any symptoms or a positive test result. The best way to prevent transmission is to take universal precautions – keep six feet apart from others, wear a face covering outside your home, and wash hands often.”
The county also noted that with a heat wave plaguing the Southland, health officials have been working with cities to ensure safe operation of cooling centers.
Ferrer warned Monday that despite the county’s success in slowing the spread, that progress could be easily eliminated if people ignore warnings to avoid parties or other large gatherings.
“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.”