September 20, 2020 Breaking News, Latest News, and Videos

COVID-19: Officials ‘Cautiously Optimistic’ County Is on Right Path to Slowing Spread

County health officials cite closure of bars and other indoor venues as factor behind trends

By Sam Catanzaro

Health officials say they are “cautiously optimistic” that Los Angeles County is on the right path to slowing the spread of COVID-19, citing the closure last month of bars and indoor businesses as a driving force behind recent downward trends.

On Monday, the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health (Public Health 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. In Santa Monica, there have been 649 cases and 37 deaths among residents.

As of Monday, the seven-day average of cases is around 2,600 cases per day. This is down from a couple weeks ago where the county was seeing over 3,000 cases per day. The seven-day positivity rate has remained mostly flat over the month of July, hovering between 8 and 8.8 percent. And finally, hospitalizations–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 the county says all of these key indicators are still “too high”, it says the plateauing of the trends is “encouraging”.

“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. Folks wore their face coverings, they maintained 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,” said Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer.

On June 28, California Gov. Gavin Newsom ordered the closure of bars, gyms and other indoor businesses in Los Angeles County. In a Monday press release, Public Health added that in addition to greater adherence to mask guidelines the decrease in transmission can also be “the decreased opportunities for transmission, particularly in high-risk settings. Several weeks ago, bars were closed, and the indoor operations of a variety of businesses and institutions were moved outdoors.”

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