LOS ANGELES – With another 50 deaths due to the coronavirus, Los Angeles County’s public health director warned again Thursday that case numbers, positivity rates and hospitalizations are continuing to rise to levels not seen since the onset of the pandemic.
Whether the worsening numbers will prompt a return to tougher Safer At Home orders and business closures remained undetermined, with Barbara Ferrer insisting that while she does not want to see such restrictions imposed again, nothing is off the table.
“Nothing can be off the table in the pandemic,” she said. “There’s too much unknown and there’s lots of things that could happen that could put us in much worse shape, including, you know, some serious mutations of this virus that make it more dangerous. So I would never be the person that’s going to say, ‘absolutely, out of the question, we can never go back to Safer At Home.’
“There’s just too much unknown here. There’s a virus, there’s a pandemic. A lot of what happens here also depends on what’s happening in other places around the country, so we shouldn’t really take any tools off the table,” she said. “What I would like to say is, I hope we never have to go back to Safer At Home. I hope we do our job well … all of us do our job well and we get back to what we know we can do, which is slow that curve.”
Ferrer announced another 50 deaths due to the coronavirus and another 1,777 new cases Thursday.
To date (July 9), Public Health has identified 124,738 positive cases of COVID-19 and 3,689 deaths across all areas of LA County, including 1,555 coronavirus cases and 22 deaths in Palmdale; 1,364 cases and 21 deaths in Lancaster; 80 cases and nine deaths in Quartz Hill; 77 cases and two deaths in Lake Los Angeles; 68 cases and no deaths in the Littlerock/Pearblossom, Juniper Hills areas; and 63 cases and no deaths in Sun Village. View the latest detailed report here.
The average daily percentage of people testing positive for coronavirus in Los Angeles County over the past seven days stood at 9.2% as of Thursday, while the overall positivity rate from throughout the pandemic remained at about 9%. The seven-day positivity average remains above the 8.4% rate reported about a week ago, but it has slightly dipped in recent days, with the rate topping 11% earlier this week.
Most concerning in the figures was the number of people hospitalized due to the virus. As of Thursday, 2,037 people were hospitalized — one of the highest, if not the highest, levels of the pandemic. In June, the average number of people hospitalized was averaging about 1,400.
“Our cases are rising, the rate of infection is increasing and the number of hospitalizations are up,” Ferrer said. “These numbers are reminiscent of what we saw months ago at what we thought was going to be the height of the pandemic here in L.A. County.”
She reiterated concerns expressed Wednesday that the increasing numbers of cases and hospitalizations could lead to spiking numbers of deaths in the coming weeks.
Ferrer noted Wednesday that while 93% of people who have died from the virus had underlying health conditions, the 7% of people who died and had no existing health issues should serve as a warning.
“When the numbers get as big as they are today, that 7% represents dozens and dozens of people who may have thought that they were at no risk for having a serious illness and even dying from COVID-19, but unfortunately this virus can affect many, many different people.”
On Thursday, Ferrer again warned that younger residents continue to drive the increasing numbers of infections, and those people can easily pass the infection to people more vulnerable to serious complications or death.
“Younger people infect everybody else,” she said. “… They don’t just get to choose, I’m only going to infect a low-risk person that I know is going to be able to tolerate COVID-19. That’s not how it works. As a young person, you inadvertently unknowingly could be infecting people even in your age cohort who then go on and infect somebody else who’s at risk and actually may even die.