Thu, Feb

LA County: Alarmed by Spiking Coronavirus Numbers, Officials aren’t Worried


CORONA WATCH--Bartenders over the weekend began mixing drinks, gyms turned on elliptical machines and nail salons began polishing away as Los Angeles County reopened more of its economy even as coronavirus cases continued to rise.

The county, a hotbed of COVID-19 in California, now has reported more than 3,000 deaths and 80,000 confirmed cases. The rising case numbers have sparked some worry about whether the economy is reopening too quickly and that easing stay-at-home orders could cause new outbreaks.

But health officials continue to discount those concerns, saying total new cases is not the best measure of community spread because of aggressive levels of new testing. They point to other metrics they say show that the local outbreak has stabilized — even though the number of new cases increased by nearly 20,000 in the last two weeks and by more than 3,600 just over the weekend.

Two key indicators — the positivity rate and average number of daily hospitalizations — have continued to remain relatively steady, while average daily deaths have declined, L.A. officials said. It is always possible these numbers could start going up, either from spread from reopening businesses, from recent protests over the police killing of George Floyd or other reasons. Officials said they are monitoring the metrics closely and could impose new restrictions if needed.

“The most important data continues to be looking at our death data and our hospitalization data and our rate of positivity, and ... all of the indicators really point to the fact that we are fairly stable and that we in fact continue to slow the spread of COVID-19,” Barbara Ferrer, the county’s health director, said Friday.  (Read the rest)