County Health Director Voices New Concern Over Steep Increases in COVID-19 Infections

The continuing high rate of COVID-19 infections and hospitalizations has Los Angeles County Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer again expressing concern about the opening of local businesses.

“While we did anticipate increases in cases as sectors reopened, we did not expect the increases to be this steep this quickly,” Ferrer said today. “Without immediate actions to slow the spread, we risk having too many people requiring hospital care and possibly overwhelming our healthcare system.”

The Health Department today reported that confirmed COVID-19 infections in West Hollywood jumped by six to a total of 240.  The number of COVID-19-related deaths remains at four. So far, 5,183 WeHo residents have been tested for the virus. Countywide, there have been 1,809 newly confirmed infections,  bringing the overall total to 93,232. There have been 25 new deaths from COVID-19 related illnesses, bringing that total to 3,267.

Ferrer said that what is particularly worrisome is the increase in the seven-day average of daily new cases. That average is now 1,979 — an increase from the 1,379 average two weeks ago. Also, there are 1,676 people who are currently hospitalized. This is higher than 1,350 to 1,450 daily hospitalizations in recent weeks. Testing results are available for over 1,020,000 individuals with 9% of people testing positive.  Previously that rate was 8%.

In its announcement of today’s infection count, the Health Department cited a big increase in visits to bars and other nightlife spots between April 6, when concerns about the pandemic were growing, and June 20, when they were allowed to re-open.

“.. Before the COVID-19 pandemic, weekend visits to nightlife spots like bars, breweries, wineries, lounges and dive bars was around 700,000. Once ‘Safer at Home’ went into effect, weekend visits dropped to around 200,000.

“Recent estimated number of visits to nightlife spots in L.A. county have shown between April 6, when nightlife visits were at their lowest since the ‘Safer at Home’ order was in effect, and June 20, the weekend after these businesses were permitted to reopen following infection control directives, visits increased 157%. It is estimated that over 500,000 people visited L.A. County nightlife spots on June 20.  Because this virus has not changed and is still easily transmitted among people in contact with each other, it is important for everyone to follow the directives and to do their part every day to keep everyone as safe as possible.”

“Safer at Home” is the government mandate that initially said that people should remain at home unless going out for essential services such as medical care, buying groceries and picking up medicine. That order has been relaxed to allow people to go to bars and restaurants, hair and nail salons, and retail stores and other businesses that adhere to certain social distancing and sanitation requirement. Those social distancing rules require that bar customers must be seated at tables that are six feet apart and that those sitting at bar stools must be six feet apart from one another and the bartender.  Some local bars and restaurants are now expanding their seating areas onto the sidewalk so that they can accommodate more customers and adhere to the distancing rules.

Rocco’s bar and restaurant has installed a sidewalk dining area to adhere to COVID-19 distancing rules (Photo courtesy of Marco Colantonio)

By law, anyone outside who is over the age of two must wear a face covering, with exceptions for certain disabled people.   However, it is common to see people on the streets who are not obeying that law. The virus can be transmitted through the air by an infected person who coughs or sneezes or sings, shouts or talks loudly.

According to today’s Health Department report, the number of confirmed infections in Beverly Hills as of today has increased by one to 207. The number of confirmed infections in Culver City increased by two to 193. The Hollywood neighborhood now has three new confirmed infections, bringing its total to 415. The Melrose neighborhood’s infections have increased by nine  to a total of 812.

Residents with questions about the COVID-19 pandemic and 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:

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Tony G
Tony G
2 years ago

How the City approved the Rocco’s sidewalk dining area? The City is helping Rocco at the expense of the pedestrians. So much talk about the six feet social distancing but you blocked the sidewalk and pedestrians only have 3 feet to walk through. The amazing creative City of West Hollywood got an F in creativity and safety.

2 years ago

How much is Roccos paying the city to rent the sidewalk?

Peter Buckley
Peter Buckley
2 years ago

Cars parking next to, homeless wandering up to you, good job city council!

2 years ago

I hate that obnoxious seating area they put up on the public sidewalk and wish the city would make then take it down. If they are only required to have 3 feet of sidewalk space, then anyone walking down the street is within a couple feet of unmasked people eating and drinking. How is that safe. I guess they only care about making money.

I don’t mind sidewalk seating done right, but theirs is just awful

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