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LA County Sets More Records As Coronavirus Deaths, Cases Continue Surging

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Los Angeles County has once again set grim coronavirus records: Health officials today reported more than 4,800 new cases and 91 deaths.

Both are the highest single-day totals yet, surpassing records set just two weeks ago.

Speaking at one of her regular briefings (you can watch a replay above), county public health director Barbara Ferrer said more than 2,000 of those new cases are from a backlog in the state's electronic lab reporting system.

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Despite those reporting issues, Ferrer said the average number of cases is climbing:

"We're really about a thousand cases a day higher than we were when we started looking at this a month ago. So we still have an increase, we won't know for another week or two whether or not we're going to start seeing a decline in that number."

Hospitalizations and deaths are also trending down but it will take time to see if those trends hold.

There is some good news: County officials say the transmission rate of the virus has dropped below one — meaning that for each person infected, they pass it on to less than one other person.

If it stays that way, they predict that only 15% of county residents will become infected by December. But if the current transmission rate were to increase by just 50%, more than half of L.A. County residents could be infected by then.

CHILD CARE RELIEF

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Thousands of essential workers and low-income families in Los Angeles County will be able to apply for vouchers to pay for child care, Ferrer said.

The County Board of Supervisors this week approved $15 million in federal CARES Act dollars to fund the vouchers. That's enough for three months of child care for 5,000 families. The Department of Public Health will be in charge of distributing the funding, along with the county.

SCHOOL WAIVERS AND YOUTH SPORTS

Gov. Gavin Newsom previously ordered school campuses in counties on the state watchlist to remain closed in the fall. That includes L.A. and surrounding counties.

However, he also gave local health officers the authority to grant individual district waivers to remain open.

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Ferrer said L.A. County's online application for districts seeking a waiver should be ready to use by the end of the week.

The decision to grant one of these waivers will be based on ensuring schools can follow reopening protocols, Ferrer said. County health officials will also evaluate community transmission trends in each school district when making their decision.

Ferrer said the county is still waiting for guidance from the state on protocols for extended day programs for students and youth sports. However, the county will be posting draft protocols for those youth programs soon and should have guidelines for sports by the end of the week. Only training and conditioning will be allowed — no contact sports.

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