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Community Transmission Of COVID-19 Is Rising In LA County, Health Director Says

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Los Angeles County's coronavirus task force delivered its now weekly update on the COVID-19 pandemic (happening every Monday at 1 p.m., unless otherwise noted). Read highlights below or watch the full video above.

Los Angeles County officials reported 2,571 new confirmed cases of coronavirus today, bringing the total to at least 85,942 cases countywide. In total, 2,982 cases have been reported in Long Beach and 1,162 in Pasadena (those two cities operate their own health departments).

County Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer said today marks the third day in the past week with over 2,000 new cases during a single day.

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“While some of this may be due to lags in reporting, the numbers do tell us that we're seeing an increase in community transmission,” Ferrer said. She explained further:

"Our current daily rate of positivity, which we calculate by using a seven-day average of the daily positivity rate, is 8.4%... For comparison, our seven-day average of the daily positivity rate was 5.8% on June 12, and that was just 10 days ago. Throughout our recovery journey we have said it's likely that the number of cases will increase as more people are out of their homes and around other people. Now it's going to be very important to watch how this increase in cases translates into our daily hospitalizations."

Of the new cases, 40% are of people between the ages of 18 and 40, Ferrer said.

"While many of us are done with this virus, unfortunately, this virus is not done with us," she said.

Ferrer also reported 18 new deaths of COVID-19 patients. The total number of deaths countywide now stands at 3,137 people.

So far, 94% of those who have died had underlying health conditions, Ferrer said, and reiterated that L.A. County residents with existing health issues should stay home as much as possible as more and more businesses and spaces reopen.

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WHAT ABOUT THE PROTESTS?

Ferrer said, given the high number of cases, health officials have not been able to say for sure if a protest was the "exact source of an exposure," but noted that it is "highly likely" people contracted the virus while attending demonstrations.

KEEPING AN EYE ON HOSPITALIZATIONS

Christina Ghaly, who oversees the county's Department of Health Services, presented projections on how the county's hospital system is managing the pandemic.

The number of new COVID-19 cases requiring hospitalization has remained constant for several weeks, she said, though available ICU beds are more limited. Ghaly explained:

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"The number of ICU beds is somewhat more limited in part... because of our increased need to take care of patients who are showing up for care who have conditions and illnesses and injuries, other than COVID-19."

SURVEY SAYS...

Ferrer presented the results of the most recent survey from USC's Dornsife Center for Economic and Social Research, which paints a picture of how L.A. County residents' behaviors have changed as stay-at-home orders have relaxed.

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(Courtesy Los Angeles County)
5ef1177b529597000da78749-eight.jpg
(Courtesy Los Angeles County)
5ef1177b529597000da78747-eight.jpg
(Courtesy Los Angeles County )
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FERRER RESPONDS TO THREATS AGAINST HER AND OTHER HEALTH OFFICIALS

In a statement released late this morning, Ferrer acknowledged death threats and other messages of violence directed at her and other public health officials around the country. She said the first one she noticed was after a Facebook live video briefing last month, when someone suggested she should be shot. Ferrer said:

“I didn’t immediately see the message, but my husband did, my children did, and so did my colleagues. One reason I handle these briefings myself is to shield the extraordinary team at L.A. County Public Health from these attacks which have been going on, via emails, public postings, and letters — since March. It is deeply worrisome to imagine that our hardworking infectious disease physicians, nurses, epidemiologists and environmental health specialists or any of our other team members would have to face this level of hatred.”

Some public health officials, including the now-former chief health officer for Orange County, have quit in the face of threats over local health orders, including face covering requirements.

BY THE NUMBERS

The death toll at institutional facilities in L.A. County continues to climb. Ferrer reported that 1,650 residents at those facilities have died, and over 90% lived in nursing homes.

Ferrer also provided a racial breakdown of the confirmed deaths, based on information confirmed for 2,918 of the victims. According to the latest available information:

  • 42% Latino / Latina [48.6% of county residents]
  • 11% African American [9% of county residents]
  • 17% Asian [15.4% of county residents]
  • 29% White [26.1% of county residents]
  • “Slightly less than” 1% Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander [0.4% of county residents]
  • 1% identified with another race or ethnicity

Here are some other key figures being reported today:

  • More than 960,000 people have been tested for COVID-19 and had their results reported to L.A. County health officials. Of those tests, 8% have been positive.
  • There are currently 1,453 people hospitalized with COVID-19. Of those individuals, 28% are in the ICU, with 19% on ventilators.
  • The county health department is currently investigating 540 institutional facilities where there's at least one confirmed case of COVID-19. Those sites include nursing homes, assisted living facilities, shelters, treatment centers, supportive living, and correctional facilities. Ferrer said there are 17,736 confirmed cases in those facilities — 11,201 residents and 6,535 staff members.
  • Ferrer said 571 cases have been confirmed among homeless people in L.A. County — 231 of whom were sheltered, Ferrer said.
  • There have now been 1,075 confirmed cases “at some point in time” in county jail facilities, Ferrer reported. In total, 790 inmates and 285 staff members have tested positive.

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