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'Closing The Bars Worked': LA County Officials See Positive Trends In Slowing Spread Of COVID-19

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Los Angeles County's coronavirus task force is giving an update on the COVID-19 pandemic. Watch live above.

After weeks of increased infections, hospitalizations and deaths, L.A. County Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer said Monday she is “cautiously optimistic” that the county is getting its act together and taking positive steps to slow the spread of COVID-19.

Hospitalizations were still averaging 2,000 people per day last week, but Ferrer said those numbers are starting to come down.

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The daily number of reported cases is beginning to taper off as well, after climbing above 3,000 new cases per day on average toward the middle of July.

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(Courtesy Los Angeles County)

“Simply put, closing the bars worked,” Ferrer said. “It also worked to limit indoor dining at restaurants and to move the operations of various businesses and institutions outdoors.”

Ferrer also acknowledged that many residents heeded the warnings from health officials and took steps to protect themselves and others by avoiding social gatherings, wearing face coverings, maintaining distance and washing their hands. She added:

“A few months ago, when we collectively and successfully flattened the curve and we reopened many of our key businesses and community sectors, a lot of us decided that that meant we could resume life as we knew it before the pandemic hit. We simply can't do this again. We still have a ways to go to reduce community transmission. Most importantly, so that we can get off of the state's monitoring list — and that's a major indicator of our progress.”

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BY THE NUMBERS

Health officials are reporting 1,634 new confirmed cases of coronavirus today, bringing the total to at least 193,788 cases countywide. In total, 8,285 cases have been reported in Long Beach and 2,004 in Pasadena. (Those two cities operate their own health departments.)

Ferrer also reported 12 new deaths of COVID-19 patients. She noted the number is lower due to lags in reporting over the weekend. The total number of deaths countywide now stands at 4,701.

Average daily deaths did climb through the month of July, Ferrer said.

"We began the month on July 1 with an average of 30 deaths per day, and unfortunately we ended the month, with an average of 34 deaths per day," she said. "We did anticipate a rise in deaths as hospitalizations increase the first three weeks of July, and death is a lagging indicator."

Here are some other key figures being reported today:

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  • More than 1.7 million people have been tested for COVID-19 and had their results reported to L.A. County health officials. Of those tests, 10% have been positive.
  • There are currently 1,784 people hospitalized with COVID-19. Of those individuals, 30% are in the ICU, with 18% on ventilators.
  • Ferrer said 1,127 cases have been confirmed among homeless people in L.A. County.
  • There have now been 3,412 confirmed cases “at some point in time” in county jail facilities, Ferrer reported. In total, 3,044 inmates and 68 staff members have tested positive.

SALOON SCANDAL

County officials also addressed reports that sheriff’s deputies allegedly gathered for a private party on Friday night inside Sassafras Saloon in Hollywood, disregarding public health guidance in the process.

Both the county health department and the Alcohol Beverage Commission are investigating the party, Ferrer said, adding that health inspectors responded to the scene the following day.

“The owners have said that they only opened for that private party, but there's a full investigation,” she said.

County Supervisor Kathryn Barger said she was very concerned and disappointed after viewing video reportedly taken at the party, “especially given the allegations that it was law enforcement, and law enforcement is supposed to be upholding the public health orders.”

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