LOS ANGELES – Los Angeles County health officials confirmed another 1,401 COVID-19 cases Friday, the highest daily total recorded in the past two weeks, further fueling concerns of a post-Labor Day surge, but hospitalization numbers were still holding steady.
Health officials have been fearing a rise in cases similar to those seen after the Memorial Day and Fourth of July holidays, when quarantine-weary residents took advantage of newly opened businesses and flocked to beaches and gatherings.
The county reported four consecutive days of 1,000-plus new cases last week, and again for three straight days this week, culminating in Friday’s two-week high.
“We have seen slight increases in new cases and are paying attention to our case, hospitalization and death numbers to understand recent community transmission of COVID-19,” public health director Barbara Ferrer said in a statement. “Data through this upcoming weekend will inform our understanding of the impact of Labor Day holiday actions. This information will inform decisions on re-opening.”
Local nail salons have been awaiting word from the county on whether they can resume indoor operations. The state has cleared the business to reopen, but the county has kept them closed, pending word on a possible post-Labor Day increase that health officials fear might be exacerbated by further reopenings.
The sudden surge in cases could also threaten the county’s ability to move out of the most restrictive tier of the state’s coronavirus economic-reopening roadmap. What had been declining case numbers put the county on the verge of moving from the restrictive “purple” tier to the less-onerous “red” tier, which would allow more businesses to reopen, including movie theaters.
But one of the metrics used by the state to rate counties’ efforts to slow the spread of the virus is the number of new daily cases per 100,000 residents — a figure now rising in L.A. County.
As of Friday, 760 people were hospitalized due to the virus in Los Angeles County, a slight uptick from Thursday, but still well below the average 2,200 numbers seen in the weeks after the Fourth of July.
A sudden rise in hospitalizations would likely lead to an eventual increase in deaths, health officials have said.
The 1,401 cases announced by the county increased the cumulative countywide total since the start of the pandemic to 265,775. The county reported another 34 coronavirus-related deaths on Friday, raising the pandemic death total to 6,488 as of Friday afternoon.
Since the start of the pandemic, health officials have confirmed 4,074 coronavirus cases and 70 deaths in Palmdale; 3,371 cases and 55 deaths in Lancaster; 178 cases and 11 deaths in Quartz Hill; 231 cases and four deaths in Lake Los Angeles; 186 cases and one death in the Littlerock/Pearblossom, Juniper Hills areas; and 165 cases and two deaths in Sun Village. View the latest detailed report here.
The county on Friday also announced four more cases of the COVID-related childhood malady known as multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children, or MIS-C. The four news cases lifted the county’s overall total number of cases to 38 — none of which have been fatal.
The syndrome is considered rare and is characterized by inflammation of various organs, such as the heart, lungs, kidneys, brain, skin and eyes.
On Wednesday, the county reported a disturbing increase in the local virus transmission rate — the average number of people a coronavirus patient infects with the illness. That number had been steadily declining, dropping below the critical threshold of 1.0, but on Wednesday, it rose to 1.02.
Health officials have said that keeping the transmission rate below 1 is critical to slowing the spread of the virus.