LOS ANGELES – The coronavirus continued its rapid advance through Los Angeles County Tuesday, with health officials announcing 2,364 new confirmed cases of the virus, along with 34 new deaths.
To date (June 23), Public Health has identified 88,262 positive cases of COVID-19 and 3,171 coronavirus deaths across all areas of LA County, including 1,115 coronavirus cases and 20 deaths in Palmdale; 934 cases and 14 deaths in Lancaster; 54 cases and nine deaths in Quartz Hill; 47 cases and two deaths in Lake Los Angeles; 56 cases and no deaths in the Littlerock/Pearblossom, Juniper Hills areas; and 37 cases and no deaths in Sun Village. View the latest detailed report here.
The county Department of Public Health also reported another increase in the number of people hospitalized — now 1,515, which is above the recent averages of between 1,350 and 1,450, but still below the pandemic peaks of more than 1,900.
More troubling was the continuing climb in the percentage of people testing positive for the virus. While the overall percentage of people testing positive remains at about 8%, the average over the past seven days has risen to 8.8%, up from 8.4% on Monday and from 5.8% just 11 days ago.
The county’s health services director, Dr. Christina Ghaly, said Monday there is no immediate danger of hospitals being overwhelmed with coronavirus cases, but if the spread of the virus continues to accelerate, it could threaten the availability of intensive-care unit beds.
Tuesday was the fourth time in the past four weeks that the daily number of new cases surpassed 2,000.
County public health director Barbara Ferrer said last week that some of the recent daily reports of more than 2,000 new cases were due in part to backlogs in reporting from select testing labs. But that wasn’t the case Monday, when she said the increases are an indication that community spread of the virus is rising.
Such a rise was anticipated when the county began reopening businesses about a month ago, leading to more people being out of their homes and interacting with other people. Although no clusters of cases have been specifically linked to recent mass protests against police brutality, Ferrer said it’s highly likely that those marches — many of which included large numbers of people without masks and ignoring social-distancing mandates — sparked more spread of the virus.
Increasing case numbers are often attributed to greater numbers of people being tested, and health officials trying to track the spread of the disease have been more closely watching other key factors such as numbers of hospitalizations, rates of positive tests and the transmission rate — the number of people on average that a coronavirus patient transmits the virus to.
Continued increases in hospitalizations and positivity rates in testing could raise the possibility of the county re-imposing business closures and stricter stay-at-home orders to avoid overwhelming hospitals.
“Public Health will monitor the data closely to see how increases in cases and rates of positivity affect the number of daily hospitalizations over the next few weeks,” according to a statement from the county DPH. “Our collective goal is to prevent an overwhelming surge of COVID-19 cases at health care facilities.”
Ghaly said Monday an analysis of case figures and estimates has found that roughly one in every 400 Los Angeles County residents is currently “infectious,” meaning they have the virus but are not showing symptoms and have not been formally diagnosed, and thus are not hospitalized or in isolation. Factoring in a margin of error, that number of infectious people could actually range from one in every 200 residents to one in every 750 residents.
Ghaly and Ferrer stressed the need for people to take precautions when venturing out in public — wearing cloth face coverings and maintaining a distance of at least six feet from people outside their own household.
An interactive dashboard is available that provides comprehensive information on COVID-19 cases, along with maps and graphs showing data by city and community. To view Public Health’s COVID-19 Surveillance Dashboard, visit: http://dashboard.publichealth.lacounty.gov/covid19_surveillance_dashboard/