Los Angeles County health officials again recommended flu shots for all Friday in hopes of avoiding a surge of hospital demand due to influenza and COVID-19.
And with another weekend starting, they urged residents not to misuse new health guidelines allowing small gatherings.
The county Department of Public Health amended its coronavirus health order this week, bringing it in line with state guidance and allowing gatherings of up to three households for private get-togethers. The change was a major departure from earlier guidance calling on residents to avoid associating with anyone outside their own household.
“As we enter the weekend, we remind residents that, if they are planning a private gathering, limit it to just your household and two others, and, in the foreseeable future, create a stable group with these households,” public health director Barbara Ferrer said in a statement.
“All private gatherings must be outdoors,” she said. “Wear a cloth face covering and practice physical distancing of at least 6 feet at all times, and do not share food with other households. Limit your visit to no more than two hours and do not attend a private gathering if you are not feeling well. We all can take these steps to enjoy friends and family as safely as possible.”
The county’s top health officer, Dr. Muntu Davis, said Thursday that the change in policy — while originated by the state — was an acknowledgement that such small gatherings were already occurring, despite health orders barring them. Davis said changing the health order was a chance for county officials to at least establish some guidelines for such meetings in hopes of limiting virus spread.
But the change came at a time when the county has seen rising daily COVID-19 case numbers and an uptick in the transmission rate, indicating a likely increase in future cases barring major behavioral changes and stricter adherence to health guidelines such as wearing face coverings.
In order to move out of the most restrictive tier of the state’s four- tier coronavirus economic-reopening roadmap, the county needs to get its daily average new case numbers down to about 700. In the past week, however, the number has been regularly topping 1,200.
On Friday, the county reported a seemingly lower 1,072 new cases, but officials said that figure is an “undercount due to a technical issue with the state’s data reporting system.” The extent of that problem was not immediately known.
The new cases lifted the countywide cumulative total since the start of the pandemic to 287,222. The county also announced another 27 coronavirus-related deaths, increasing the overall total to 6,855.
A total of 735 people were hospitalized due to the virus as of Friday, up from 723 on Thursday, 720 on Wednesday, 692 on Tuesday, 693 on Monday and 715 on Sunday.
Although coronavirus hospitalizations have been generally trending downward since July, health officials still fear a potential spike in hospital demand if the region experiences a severe flu season while the COVID-19 pandemic is still raging.
Davis, the county health officer, outlined plans Thursday for the county to provide vaccinations for the homeless and residents and staff at skilled nursing facilities. But the county in a statement Friday stressed the need for all residents to get immunized against the flu to prevent a so-called “twin-demic” of influenza and COVID-19.
Health officials said everyone 6 months old and older should be immunized, particularly those at high risk of becoming seriously ill, such as pregnant women, children, people over 65 and those with chronic medical conditions.
Four new infections were reported among West Hollywood residents today, bringing the number of infections to date at 611. The number of people in West Hollywood who have died of COVID-19 related illnesses is still listed as five.
In Beverly Hills, the number of confirmed infections as of Monday has increased by one to 725. The number of COVID-19 related deaths in Beverly Hills to date 12. The number of COVID-19 infections confirmed among Culver City residents has increased by three to 406. The number of deaths to date is 28. The number of infections in Hollywood has increased by six to 1,314. The number of deaths has increased by one to 15. The Melrose neighborhood’s number of infections has increased by ten to 2,056. The number of COVID-19 related deaths has increased by one to 75.
Public Health has a dedicated call line for confirmed cases of COVID-19. If you are positive for COVID-19 and have not yet connected with a public health specialist or need more information on services, call toll-free at 1 (833) 540-0473. Residents who do not have COVID-19 can continue to call 211 for resources or more information.
One way the virus can be transmitted is through a cough, a sneeze or even through air that comes from the mouth when someone talks. For that reason, residents must wear face coverings when out in public and can be cited for not doing so. The citations come with a $250 fine and a $50 administrative fee.
West Hollywood residents with questions about the COVID-19 pandemic or who are looking for resources to deal with it can find answers on the City of West Hollywood’swebsite. Here is a list of links to sections about particular subjects and issues: