Los Angeles County Director of Public Health Barbara Ferrer reported the county currently has 2,232 patients hospitalized due to the coronavirus. The previous high was 2,216, set just the day before. “This is the 4th day in the past week that’e we’ve reported the highest number of hospitalizations due to COVID-19,” she said.
This is the fourth consecutive day of hospitalization over 2,100 confirmed cases, with data indicating younger people between the ages of 18 and 40 years old being hospitalized at a higher rate than seen at any point in the pandemic.
Ferrer did not indicate how many ICU beds the county had available, which is a consistent reporting hole in her daily press conferences. ICU bed stats, when county officials give them, are reported as a percentage of overall hospitalizations, with no sense of remaining capacity.
On Saturday, for instance, the county reported 2,188 cases hospitalized, with “28 percent of confirmed cases in the ICU and 18 percent are confirmed cases on ventilators.”
That blind spot is made more maddening when, as he often does, Mayor Eric Garcetti emphasized on Friday that the county is critically low on ICU beds, with only 102 extant. “We’re on the brink of going to double digits — dropping down to double digits of our ICU beds available — for the first time since I’ve been giving these reports,” said the Mayor.
That ICU bed count conflicts with data on county’s COVID-19 dashboard on Thursday showing that there was a 3-day average of 1,389 available ICU beds out of a total of about 4800. Deadline reached out to county officials for an explanation and received a power-point document indicating that, on Thursday, there were 129 ICU beds left. There was no explanation of the discrepancy between the county dashboard number — which is still live — and Garceti’s number.
On Sunday Public Health reported that the positivity rate of tests has increased from 9 percent to 10 percent, even as the number of tests have increased. On Monday, she indicated that number had dropped to 8 percent.
There were 3,160 new COVID-19 cases in the past 24 hours. The county is now averaging over 3,000 new cases per day over the past 7 days. The total number of cases identified in the region since the pandemic broke out is 159,045.
“Without a doubt,” said Ferrer on Monday, “the number one driver of the surge that we’re experiencing today is simple to identify: People are interacting with each other and they’re not adhering to the recommended prevention measures.”
Ferrer reported 9 COVID-related deaths. “We often see low numbers reported to us over the weekend,” said Ferrer. That brings the number of coronavirus-related deaths to 4,104 people in L.A. County.
When asked if the region had opened up too early, County Supervisor Katheryn Barger said, “Everything that the county has done has been in compliance with the state’s guidelines.” She attributed the current spikes to Memorial Day gatherings, protests and non-compliance with Health Department-recommended best practices.
At his Friday news conference, Governor Gavin Newsom ordered counties on the state’s coronavirus watch list to shut down school campuses this fall, at least to begin the school year. The 32 (now 33) counties on the list — which include Los Angeles and most of Southern California — must switch to virtual instruction only. The state’s two largest districts, Los Angeles Unified and San Diego Unified, had already announced plans to begin the new academic year with online-only courses.
The mandate applies to private as well as public schools, according to Newsom.
In order to physically reopen schools, counties will have to meet the state’s attestation requirements. Los Angeles, Orange, Ventura, San Diego and Riverside counties are on the watch list.
Shortly after Newsom’s announcement, the L.A. County Department of Public Health announced it would order the region to follow the governor’s lead.