“Two weeks ago,” said Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, “I stood before you at one of these briefings and said that the virus was taking control from us and that we needed to take back control from the virus. And that message tonight has not changed.”
But, said the mayor, “We have some small, hopeful signs that reflect our resilience.”
On Friday, Los Angeles County reported one of its lowest recent daily totals of new coronavirus cases. The county tallied 1,949 new infections, down from reports over the past week that have daily added 2,000 or more cases to the total. The dip, however, was attributed to delays in test results from the state, and Garcetti indicated that proportionally higher numbers will likely result in coming days as the backlog clears.
“You may have seen some clickbait headlines this week that California now has more diagnosed cases than any state in America,” said Garcetti. “But I think those headlines are misleading. Of course we have more cases because we have more people.”
“I track per capita cases,” said the mayor. “By that measure we are 24th of 50 states right now.”
White House coronavirus task force coordinator Dr. Deborah Birx was a little less sanguine about the state of the state on Friday.
“What we have right now are essentially three New Yorks,” Dr. Birx told Today, referring to the onetime epicenter of the pandemic in the nation. The “three New Yorks” she singled out were California, Florida and Texas.
Additionally, one day after California reported a grim new peak in coronavirus deaths, Friday saw another record high with 159 COVID-related deaths, marking back-to-back record days.
Garcetti did not mention the records.
“Four of the the six key indicators the county uses to track progress are heading in the right direction,” said Garcetti. Those include PPE, hospitalizations, new cases, new deaths, test positivity and acute care bed capacity.
Hospitalizations have been an area of concern in recent weeks, with the number topping 2,200 in Los Angeles County for the past five days, the highest levels of the pandemic.
But health officials have noted this week that the number of new hospitalizations in L.A. County appeared to be leveling off, and possibly even decreasing, following a precipitous climb in mid-July.
The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in area hospitals dipped to 1,928 on Friday. County officials said the figures are incomplete, however, due to “changes in reporting requirements from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.”
“These numbers do appear to be stabilizing,” said the mayor. But, “Overall our public health conditions remain fragile.”