Dr. Deborah Birx, the White House’s coronavirus response coordinator, identified the Los Angeles metro area and two other major cities on Friday as places of concern because they have a “persistent high number of cases” yet remain closed.
She also cited Washington, D.C. and Chicago as hotspots, and called for the Centers for Disease Control to work with the metro areas to study where the cases are coming from, and to come up with a way to prevent them in the future.
But Birx’s comments were a bit of a contrast with those of Barbara Ferrer, Los Angeles County’s public health director, who was more sanguine when asked about the L.A. area’s progress.
“As I noted yesterday,” Ferrer told reporters on Friday, “our overall data points are looking pretty good in terms of being on the recovery journey.”
She said that hospitalization rates and deaths were moving downward. “We are moving in the right direction,” she said.
She also noted that the county has been working “very closely” with the CDC “from the very beginning of the pandemic and we actually have folks that are here from the Centers for Disease Control.”
At the White House, Birx showed a chart of daily confirmed cases in the Los Angeles area, including not just Los Angeles County but Orange County.
The county also announced that the death toll reached 2,049, with 1,072 new confirmed cases. The total number of cases so far is 43,052.
A USC study this week showed that many more people in Los Angeles County had COVID-19 antibodies than was previously thought. That is a sign of past infection. The study showed that 4.65% of the county’s adult population has contracted the coronavirus. But researchers said that is still a long way from so-called “herd immunity,” where enough people are resistant to the virus to stop its spread.
The White House’s singling out of the Los Angeles area came as the Department of Justice sent a letter to Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti warning of a longterm lockdown, according to the Los Angeles Times. “Reports of your recent public statements indicate that you suggested the possibility of long-term lockdown of the residents in the city and county of Los Angeles, regardless of the legal justification for such restrictions,” wrote Eric S. Dreiband, assistant attorney general in the department’s civil rights division.
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