LOS ANGELES – For the second time in three days, Los Angeles County set a daily record Thursday for new coronavirus cases and announced more than 50 additional deaths, while the county’s top health officer warned that workplaces have become a major source of virus transmission.
The county Department of Public Health announced 4,592 cases of the virus, topping the single-day record of 4,244 set on Tuesday. The county also announced 59 new deaths Thursday, lifting the countywide total to 3,989.
To date (July 16), Public Health has identified 1,848 coronavirus cases and 26 deaths in Palmdale; 1,599 cases and 21 deaths in Lancaster; 94 cases and 10 deaths in Quartz Hill; 95 cases and two deaths in Lake Los Angeles; 88 cases and no deaths in the Littlerock/Pearblossom, Juniper Hills areas; and 77 cases and no deaths in Sun Village. View the latest detailed report here.
The number of people hospitalized due to the virus dipped slightly to 2,173 — still one of the highest levels of the pandemic.
Spiking case numbers have health officials pleading with the public to adhere to health orders by avoiding large gatherings, wearing face coverings and distancing themselves from others while in public.
“Without aggressive action on the part of every person, we will not get back to slowing the spread,” public health director Barbara Ferrer said in a statement.
She and county Health Officer Dr. Muntu Davis both said businesses also need to do more to protect workers, with Davis saying workplaces have seen sharp increases in virus transmissions.
Davis said inspectors over the past few months have been responding to 2,000 to 3,000 complaints a week about potential health protocol violations at workplaces.
Workplaces most susceptible to outbreaks are food-processing companies and distribution facilities, including meat-packing plants, manufacturers, garment factories and wholesale warehouses, he said.
“These workplaces have several things in common,” Davis said. “They’re large employers with large numbers of low-wage workers, and they have workers who are spending long shifts together in close proximity and in indoor spaces.”
Those situations have contributed to the data showing that “Black and Latino residents and people in high-poverty areas are bearing the brunt of this virus.”
He also said many employers are still falling short of meeting operating protocols, saying the county is “not seeing compliance that we need with the public health director directives being in place to keep people’s health and livelihood safe.”
“Businesses have a corporate, moral and social responsibility to their employees to provide a safe work environment,” Davis said. “They must adhere to all the health officer directives. People’s health, lives and livelihoods are at stake.”
Davis noted that while the county is receiving and responding to thousands of workplace complaints a week, some workers may be reluctant to come forward due to fear of retaliation from their employers. He said the county has a hotline workers can call to safely report possible violations, at 800-700-9995.
In general, employers voluntarily come into compliance once they are visited by inspectors, Davis said, and it is very rare for the county to resort to large fines or possible criminal prosecution.
More than 1.4 million people have been tested for the coronavirus virus during the pandemic, with the overall rate of positive tests at 9%. The rolling average over the past seven days was slightly higher, at 9.8%.
Health officials have declined to identify any exact trigger points that might lead to a return to the original “Safer At Home” order that called on residents to remain at home as much as possible, leaving only for essential errands, and that shuttered most businesses.
On Monday, Gov. Gavin Newsom renewed business restrictions in 30 California counties, including Los Angeles. His order again forced the closure of indoor gyms, hair salons, nail salons, places of worship, massage businesses and tattoo parlors. Newsom also ordered a statewide closure of all bars and forced restaurants throughout California to cease indoor service.