LOS ANGELES — Los Angeles County health officials again recommended flu shots for all Friday in hopes of avoiding a surge of hospital demand due to influenza and COVID-19.
And with another weekend starting, they urged residents not to misuse new health guidelines allowing small gatherings.
The county Department of Public Health amended its Coronavirus health order this week, bringing it in line with state guidance and allowing gatherings of up to three households for private get-togethers. The change was a major departure from earlier guidance calling on residents to avoid associating with anyone outside their own household.
“As we enter the weekend, we remind residents that, if they are planning a private gathering, limit it to just your household and two others, and, in the foreseeable future, create a stable group with these households,” public health director Barbara Ferrer said in a statement.
“All private gatherings must be outdoors,” she said. “Wear a cloth face covering and practice physical distancing of at least six feet at all times, and do not share food with other households. Limit your visit to no more than two hours and do not attend a private gathering if you are not feeling well. We all can take these steps to enjoy friends and family as safely as possible.”
The county’s top health officer, Dr. Muntu Davis, said Thursday the change in policy — while originated by the state — was an acknowledgment that such small gatherings were already occurring, despite health orders barring them. Davis said changing the health order was a chance for county officials to at least establish some guidelines for such meetings in hopes of limiting virus spread.
But the change came at a time when the county has seen rising daily COVID-19 case numbers and an uptick in the transmission rate, indicating a likely increase in future cases barring major behavioral changes and stricter adherence to health guidelines such as wearing face coverings.
In order to move out of the most restrictive tier of the state’s four- tier Coronavirus economic-reopening roadmap, the county needs to get its daily average new case numbers down to about 700. In the past week, however, the number has been regularly topping 1,200.
On Friday, the county reported a seemingly lower 1,072 new cases, but officials said that figure is an “undercount due to a technical issue with the state’s data reporting system.” The extent of that problem was not immediately known.
The new cases lifted the countywide cumulative total since the start of the pandemic to 287,222.
The county also announced another 27 Coronavirus-related deaths, increasing the overall total to 6,855.
A total of 735 people were hospitalized due to the virus as of Friday, up from 723 on Thursday, 720 on Wednesday, 692 on Tuesday, 693 on Monday and 715 on Sunday.
Although Coronavirus hospitalizations have been generally trending downward since July, health officials still fear a potential spike in hospital demand if the region experiences a severe flu season while the COVID-19 pandemic is still raging.
As of Friday, the following areas reported COVID-19 cases and deaths:
• Palmdale: 4,618 cases and 77 deaths.
• Lancaster: 3,840 cases and 66 deaths (includes cases associated with correctional facility outbreaks).
• Lake Los Angeles: 265 cases and four deaths.
• Quartz Hill: 198 cases and 10 deaths.
• Sun Village: 177 cases and three deaths.
• Littlerock/Pearblossom: 102 cases and no deaths.
• Littlerock: 88 cases and one death.
• Acton: 77 cases and two deaths.
• Agua Dulce: 30 cases and no deaths.
• Pearblossom/Llano: 24 cases and one death.
• Leona Valley: 23 cases and no deaths.
• Littlerock/Juniper Hills: 19 cases and no deaths.
• Llano: Three cases and no deaths.