Nationwide surge “Extraordinarily Widespread”
LOS ANGELES – The Director of the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health expressed guarded optimism Monday, that community spread of COVID-19 in the County has slowed and that other key indicators are stabilizing.
“The key indicators that we closely monitor at Public Health are looking positive, and I want to give credit to a large number of our county residents who heeded our orders and took the personal, basic actions needed to slow this virus, said Dr. Barbara Ferrer, Director of Public Health.
“Folks wore their face coverings, they maintained a physical distance from people they don’t live with, avoided gatherings and parties, and washed their hands. But for our long-term success, we need to continue limiting the spread of COVID-19. We can’t simply go back to life as we knew it before March. We unfortunately still have a long way to go; we must remain vigilant,” she added.
“The positive trends can be attributed to a variety of things, including the decreased opportunities for transmission, particularly in high-risk settings,” a spokesperson wrote in a media statement. “Several weeks ago, bars were closed, and the indoor operations of a variety of businesses and institutions were moved outdoors.”
Officials noted that the 7-day average of cases is around 2,600 cases per day. This is down from a couple of weeks ago where the county was seeing over 3,000 cases per day. The 7-day positivity rate has remained mostly flat over the month of July, hovering between 8 and 8.8 percent. And finally, hospitalizations, which is a key indicator of health system capacity, is on a positive trend with 2,000 hospitalizations on average. This number had ticked up to 2,200 in the middle of July. Although all of these key indicators are still too high, the plateauing of the trends are encouraging.
The Public Health department confirmed 12 new deaths and 1,634 new cases of COVID-19. To date, Public Health has identified 193,788 positive cases of COVID-19 across all areas of L.A. County, and a total of 4,701 deaths.
There are 1,784 people with confirmed cases of COVID-19 currently hospitalized. Of hospitalized patients, 30% are in the ICU and 18% are currently ventilated.
Coronavirus continues to wreak havoc across the country: White House Task Force Coordinator Dr. Deborah Birx this past weekend warned that the virus is “extraordinarily widespread,” Dr. Anthony Fauci identified an “insidious” uptick in infections in Midwestern states, and the nation is still reeling from the sunbelt surge that overwhelmed hospitals and caused a wave of rising deaths.
At least 30 states suffered higher rates of new deaths this past week compared to the previous week, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. In 12 of those states, the increase in deaths was at least 50%. The test positivity rates — an indicator of how rampantly a virus is spreading — remains stubbornly high in 32 states, CNN reported Monday.
While the number of tests performed has increased, the test positivity rate has also increased. That means a larger percentage of tests performed turn out to be positive. Had the rise in new case numbers just been the result of increased testing, ‘the percent positive line could look flat or like it is decreasing over the time period when cases increased,’ according to Johns Hopkins University. But that’s not what’s happening. As of Sunday, 32 states had higher test positivity rates over the past week compared to the previous week — suggesting ‘increased transmission,’ Johns Hopkins said on its Coronavirus Resource Center website.
In a COVID-19 related story Monday, CBS Los Angeles reported that The Los Angeles Unified School District and the United Teachers Los Angeles bargaining team reached the agreement after a marathon weekend negotiation session. The two sides reached a tentative deal late Sunday night on how to proceed with distance learning amid the coronavirus pandemic.
California is grappling with a deluge of requests for unemployment benefits amid the COVID-19 pandemic, some state workers processing claims say they are buckling under pressure, hampered by outdated technology, bureaucratic red tape and a shortage of trained, experienced staff, the Los Angeles Times reported adding that the state Employment Development Department is so overwhelmed that nearly 1 million unpaid claims may be eligible for payment but require more information, with estimates that the backlog won’t be eliminated until the end of September.