Ahead of Holiday Weekend Officials Warns COVID-19 Progress Could Be Hampered

Seven-day positivity rate currently below 5 percent

By Sam Catanzaro

Despite optimism regarding COVID-19 transmission rates, ahead of Labor Day Los Angeles County health officials warning the public to heed the lessons learned from the spike in cases, hospitalizations and deaths that occurred after previous holidays.

According to the Los Angeles Department of Public Health (Public Health) increases in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations occurred within a few weeks of the Memorial Day and July 4th.

“As we approach the Labor Day weekend and as we plan for how our county will reopen schools and more businesses, we must learn from our past. Gatherings – parties, cook-outs and the other activities we usually do with non-household members on holidays can easily lead to increases in transmission, hospitalizations and deaths,” said Public Health Director Barbra Ferrer at a Monday press conference.

L.A. County has made encouraging progress, however, in all the key indicators the past month.

A month ago, on July 31, the seven-day test positivity rate was 8.6 percent. As of Monday, the seven-day positivity rate is 4.7 percent, a decrease of 45 percent in one month.

“The percent of positive tests is a good indicator of how we are doing at slowing the spread of the virus,” Public Health said.

In that same period, the county’s daily hospitalizations decreased by 48 percent, from 2,220 on July 31 to 1,043 Monday. The seven-day average of new cases has also declined steadily over the past month. On July 31 the seven-day average of new cases was 2,883 and as of Monday that number is 1,309, a decrease of 55 percent.

93 percent of the people who died from COVID-19 had underlying health conditions, according to Public Health.

Testing results are available for more than 2,296,000 individuals with 10 percent of all people testing positive since the pandemic began.

Last Friday, the state announced a new tiered framework to capture more easily the extent of community transmission in counties across the state and will use this tiered system to guide possible sector re-openings for each county to consider. The ultimate decisions about sector re-openings, however, will remain under the purview of the local health officer orders that are developed in consultation with the Board of Supervisors, the County noted.

LA County is currently in Tier 1, meaning that there continues to be widespread transmission of the virus in the county. The current number of new cases per day per 100,000 people is 13.1, nearly double the threshold for this tier which is less than 7 new cases per day per 100,000 population. And even though L.A. County’s current test positivity rate of 5 percent puts it in Tier 2 (Red) for this metric, when the two metrics fall in different tiers the state places counties in the most restrictive tier; hence, L.A. County, like most counties in California, has been placed in Tier 1.

x”Our path forward for recovery depends on us being able to reduce community transmission significantly so children and teachers can get back to their classrooms and more people can get back to their jobs with as much safety as possible, the County said.

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