As the hardest-hit in the state by the COVID-19 crisis, Los Angeles County may not yet meet the criteria to fully move through Stage 2 of the state’s recovery roadmap, the weeks of following the Safer at Home orders have had a measurable effect on the virus’ spread, Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer said Thursday.
She recapped data from some of the indicators used to track the virus, its prevalence and reach. These indicators are true for most groups of people.
One key indicator, the seven-day average of deaths per day, is decreasing, down 12% to 37 deaths per day, Ferrer said.
The three-day average for the number of people with COVID-19 and currently hospitalized is also decreasing. It is down 15% to 1,532, she said.
In other indicators, the county has adequate hospital capacity, including intensive care beds and ventilators and is meeting most targets for supplies of personal protective gear.
The latter is an area for improvement, Ferrer said, especially in the area of gowns.
The county also is working on meeting the goal of 15,000 diagnostic tests completed daily, but additional test sites have been added in areas of greatest need. The seven-day average for daily testing stands at 13,332, she said.
As reported Wednesday by Health Services Director Dr. Christina Ghaly, the virus’ average rate of transmission has decreased, from three people infected by every infected person to a one-to-one infection rate, Ferrer said.
“This is very good news and it shows that what we’re doing over the past few weeks — staying home, the physical distancing, wearing our cloth face coverings — has resulted in a reduced number of infections from what we would’ve had had we not taken any precautions,” she said.
Additionally, results from a recent round of testing for antibodies to show how many people have been infected seem to demonstrate that suggest fewer people have been infected than in the survey taken in April.
The threat of the virus remains, despite the gains. With people returning to work and visiting stores and restaurants, there will be more exposure to the virus. The impacts of the latest round of openings won’t be apparent for two to three weeks, as the virus has a two-week incubation period, Ferrer said.
An additional 1,204 confirmed cases of COVID-19 were reported Thursday, bringing the countywide total to 42,037.
Ferrer noted that 76% of all COVID-19 cases and 74% of new cases are people between the ages of 18 and 65, who make up the majority of the county’s workforce.
“If more people are going back to work, it’s an important reminder that people at the workplace may be infected, even if they aren’t feeling sick,” she said. “We need our employers and our employees to work together to make sure that employees and customers are in an environment that’s as safe as possible.”
Confirmed cases reported in the Antelope Valley now total 1,255, up 25 cases since Wednesday, according to public health officials.
Palmdale continues to report the greatest number of COVID-19 cases in the Valley, with 599, followed by Lancaster with 503.
Some of the Lancaster tally may include the California State Prison, where 50 staff and 126 inmates have tested positive for the virus, according to public health officials.
In the unincorporated communities, Quartz Hill reported 33 cases on Thursday, Lake Los Angeles 27,
Littlerock/Pearblossom reported 19, Littlerock 14, Sun Village reported 11 and Acton had 10 cases.
Agua Dulce reported six cases, Desert View Highlands five cases and the unincorporated areas of Palmdale and North Lancaster reported four cases each Thursday, while Elizabeth Lake and White Fence Farms each reported three cases.
Del Sur, Leona Valley, Littlerock/Juniper Hills, Pearblossom/Llano and West Antelope Valley each reported two cases.
Lake Hughes, Anaverde, High Vista and Llano each reported a single case, according to public health officials.
With the addition of 46 deaths Thursday, the death toll in Los Angeles County from COVID-19 has passed the 2,000-mark, with a total of 2,016 deaths reported countywide, public health officials reported.
Deaths attributed to COVID-19 in the Antelope Valley numbered 35 on Thursday.
As with confirmed cases, most were in Palmdale and Lancaster, with 15 and eight deaths, respectively.
Additionally, the unincorporated community of Quartz Hill reported seven deaths, two were reported in Lake Los Angeles and a singe death each in Acton, Del Sur and Desert View Highlands.
Countywide, 6,026 people who tested positive for COVID-19 have been hospitalized at some point, a rate of 14%.
As of Thursday, there remained 1,517 people hospitalized with the virus, 26% of them in intensive care and 20% using ventilators.
“Every day we have continued to see a slight decrease in the number of people hospitalized,” Ferrer said.
To the north, more Kern County businesses, including dine-in restaurants and shopping malls, are moving ahead with reopening after the state granted permission for that county to proceed through latter phases of Stage 2 in the Roadmap to Recovery.
Businesses must still abide by protective measures including physical distancing, face coverings and hand washing. Specific guidelines exist for businesses, such as ensuring six feet between diners at restaurants.
Retail stores may allow shoppers inside, but also with the distance restrictions.
Kern County was granted a variance late Wednesday after the state lowered the threshold for the COVID-19 circumstances which determine when to proceed through the recovery steps.