An upward surge in COVID-19 cases continued to haunt Los Angeles County health officials today, with the daily number of new cases rising to levels not seen since the post-Fourth of July spike.
And the upcoming winter holiday season is leading to fears that extended gatherings among family and friends could exacerbate matters further.
The county announced another 2,065 coronavirus cases on Thursday, the
highest single-day number of new cases not associated with a testing backlog
since late August. That comes on top of 1,843 cases the county reported on
“Again, it’s not a rapid increase, but it’s been kind of a slow,
steady increase,” said Dr. Paul Simon, chief science officer for the county Department of Public Health.
Echoing concerns expressed by local health officials over the past few weeks, Simon noted that Los Angeles County’s recent rise in case numbers is likely due in large part to resident gathering with people outside their own households, either at private get-togethers or at restaurants.
He said the county has no immediate plans to implement any sweeping shutdowns or other restrictions, but health officials will be watching the numbers closely.
“I think if we continue to see very slow, gradual increases, we may be willing to live with it,” Simon said. “We’re not going to do anything drastic at this point. We are, though, trying to intensify our messaging around
discouraging gatherings. … We think that’s probably an important contributor.
“We understand people are getting very tired of this COVID world, and we hope that in the new year there will be some new strategies that will help us control spread,” he said. “But for the time being, definitely through the Thanksgiving and December holiday season, New Year, we really are discouraging the gatherings outside your household.”
Simon said the county’s recent case increases have not matched the “surges being reported in other parts of the country,” where some have declared the onset of a “third wave” of COVID-19.
“We do worry with the colder weather, more people being inside, the fatigue, people wanting to socialize more, with the holidays coming — all of that creates a mix of circumstances that could lead to an accelerating increase. We hope that does not happen.”
Simon raised some eyebrows during his online media briefing when he was asked about a proposal being considered in the Bay Area that would require residents who travel to other parts of the country over the holidays to quarantine for 14 days when they return.
Surprisingly, Simon said Los Angeles County actually already has such a recommendation on the books, although it’s not a requirement. Simon acknowledged that the recommendation probably isn’t very well known.
“There are so many guidance documents, sometimes these things get buried. That is a recommendation,” he said. “We can make something a requirement, but at the end of the day it’s only as effective as the degree to which there’s adherence to it.”
In addition to the 2,065 cases announced by the county, Long Beach reported 39 new cases Thursday, while Pasadena added 12. The new cases increased the county’s cumulative today from throughout the pandemic to 315,615.
The county reported another 25 coronavirus-related deaths, increasing the overall total to 7,140.
There were 825 people hospitalized due to COVID-19 as of Thursday. The hospital number topped 800 on Wednesday for the first time since September, although the count is still down from the peak of more than 2,000 daily hospitalizations in July.
Four new infections have been reported in West Hollywood today, bringing the overall number to date at 689. 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 has increased by six to 784. The number of COVID-19 related deaths in Beverly Hills to date 12. The number of COVID-19 infections confirmed among Culver City has increased by eight, bringing the total to date to 451. The number of deaths to date is 28. The number of infections in Hollywood has increased by 14 to a total to date of 1,458. The number of deaths to date remains at 15. The Melrose neighborhood’s number of infections has increased by 15 and to date today totals 2,234. The number of COVID-19 related deaths to date is reported as 74.
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’s website. Here is a list of links to sections about particular subjects and issues: