After a week of record numbers and a curious plunge in cases yesterday, Johns Hopkins University indicated that Los Angeles now has the highest number of coronavirus cases of any county in the nation.
Johns Hopkins reported 89,633 total cases in L.A. County as of Wednesday. That institution’s numbers frequently outpace other sources, but the Centers for Disease Control came in just slightly lower at 89,490 total infections. That would still place the county at the top of John Hopkins’s ignominious list.
Of course, if one adds up the five boroughs that make up New York City that number, per Johns Hopkins, comes out to 213,699.
Whichever way one wants to parse the data it is apparent that, as New York reopens with an infection rate of less than 1 percent, America’s most populous county is headed in the opposite direction. L.A.’s infection rate is 8 percent.
On Monday, the county experienced an all-time high of more than 2,500 new cases. Tuesday was another near record, with 2,364 new cases.
The numbers dipped precipitously in the county on Wednesday, with 1,260 new cases reported. But on Thursday, the number of daily new cases jumped back up to 2,012.
So what gives? Often when case numbers go up, experts point to a parallel increase in testing as the culprit. Rough calculations show the number of daily tests in the county see-sawing between a low of 11,000 and a high of 29,000. But the peaks in testing do not correspond with the peaks in new cases.
As far as testing goes, many people have complained about the unavailability of tests in the county of late.
When asked about testing availability last week, officials said last week that appointments had begun being allocated differently between those who were showing symptoms and those who were not. On Wednesday, faced with the same questions, Mayor Garcetti said yesterday that some of the issues stem from a shift in where testing will happen, with the emphasis being placed more on care from clinics and personal physicians rather than city and county testing sites.
The city’s COVID-19 site states, “Priority for same or next day testing is still given to people experiencing symptoms, and certain critical front-line workers who interact with the public. Testing is by appointment only.”
The mayor also described the city’s testing sites as “maxed out,” and promised to add more ASAP.
Concurrently, the County Health Department’s daily press release stopped providing a running total of “testing results available” and switched to simply the testing capacity available, which makes it impossible to determine how many tests have been delivered each day.
Meanwhile, the case numbers in the state have been spiking. California Governor Gavin Newsom reported 5,349 new coronavirus cases on Thursday. That’s down from the all time high of 7,149 just the day before, but the governor was not enthusiastic about the drop, saying the number is “still higher than it should be.”
Newsom continued by warning that “We’ve seen 56,000 new cases just in the past 14 days.” That’s over a quarter of the total 195,000 cases identified in the region so far. Some of those numbers can be attributed to increased testing, said Newsom. But not all of it.
The positivity rate of tests each day has been rising, up 5.1 percent over the past 14 days. In the past seven days, said the governor, that rate is clocking in at 5.6 percent statewide.
Hospitalization totals in the state broke records on Saturday and Sunday, with 3,702 COVID-19 patients reported in hospital beds. The previous high before last weekend came nearly two months earlier on April 29. That was 3,497 new hospitalizations.
Yesterday Newsom revealed a 29 percent increase in total hospitalizations over the past 14 days. Today that number rose to 32 percent.
California was one of seven states that, on Tuesday, reported the highest number of hospitalizations since the pandemic began, according to the Washington Post. The others included Texas, Arizona, Arkansas, North Carolina, South Carolina and Tennessee.
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