COVID-19 continued surging in Los Angeles County Friday, with the daily case number escalating above 2,100 for the first time since mid-August, giving the county a three-day total that tops 6,000.
The county’s public health director again expressed confidence that the county can reverse the trend if residents stick to infection-control measures and stop gathering in groups.
“We have experienced increasing cases in L.A. County before and have demonstrated that we can get back to slowing the spread of COVID-19 and saving lives when we are united in our efforts to minimize infections,” Barbara Ferrer said in a statement. “With so many people infected each day, there are a lot more opportunities for virus transmission if we continue to intermingle with lots of people outside our households.
“We are strongly recommending that everyone limit their interactions with people outside their household as much as possible as we work together to lower the number of new cases,” she said.
The 2,108 new cases reported by the county on Friday, along with 25 announced by health officials in Long Beach and 15 added by Pasadena, lifted the cumulative countywide total to 317,696.
The county also announced 23 more coronavirus-related deaths on Friday, while Long Beach added one more. The fatalities increased the countywide death toll since the start of the pandemic to 7,158.
There were 821 people hospitalized as of Friday, down slightly from 825 on 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.
Friday marked the third consecutive day the county reported more than 1,800 coronavirus cases. During that span, the county has amassed 6,016 new cases.
Health officials have pointed directly at gatherings among residents as the primary driver of the recent surge in cases. They even suggested that people getting together with friends — or even just amassing at restaurants with televisions — to watch sporting events such as the Lakers and Dodgers recent title runs have contributed to the increase.
And with the winter holiday season rapidly approaching, health officials fear gatherings of extended family and friends will increase. The cooler weather, meanwhile, means those gatherings will likely occur more often indoors, despite health orders to the contrary, threatening to rapidly spread infections.
On Thursday, Dr. Paul Simon, chief science officer for the county Department of Public Health, said thus far the county’s surge in cases hasn’t equaled spiking numbers being seen in some parts of the country, but the increases are still concerning.
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.”
The Department of Public Health on Friday also urged people who are infected with the virus to take part in a contact-tracing interview to help contain the spread of the illness and prevent more outbreaks. As of Friday, more than 157,000 people who tested positive for the illness have taken part in the interviews, leading to subsequent interviews of more than 71,000 people considered close contacts of those who were infected.
Seven new infections have been reported in West Hollywood today, bringing the overall number to date at 696. 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 ten to 794. 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 one, bringing the total to date to 452. The number of deaths to date is 28. The number of infections in Hollywood has increased by 10 to a total to date of 1,468. The number of deaths to date remains at 15. The Melrose neighborhood’s number of infections has increased by 13 and to date today totals 2,247. 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: