LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) — Los Angeles County Monday set another record for the daily number of new coronavirus cases as health officials confirmed they have seen an increase in community transmission.
County public health Director Dr. Barbara Ferrer announced 2,571 newly confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 18 additional virus-related deaths, bringing countywide totals to 85,942 cases and 3,137 deaths.
“I want to note that this is our third day in the past week where we’re reporting more than 2,000 new cases during a single day,” Ferrer said. “While some of this may be due to lags in reporting, the numbers do tell us that we’re seeing an increase in community transmission.”
Ferrer said that while the county’s overall rate of positive coronavirus tests was holding steady at about 8%, the rate has been increasing over the past week. Ferrer said the average daily rate of tests that come back positive — calculated by averaging results over a seven-day period — was 8.4% Monday, up from 5.8% on June 12.
“And that was just 10 days ago,” Ferrer said. “Throughout our recovery journey, we have said it’s likely that the number of cases will increase as more people are out of their homes and around other people.
“Now it’s going to be very important to watch how this increase in cases translates into our daily hospitalizations over the next few weeks.”
As of Monday, there were 1,453 people hospitalized in the county for coronavirus, up slightly from Sunday.
The news comes as Gov. Gavin Newsom reported that coronavirus-related hospitalizations across the state were at the biggest number since the pandemic began.
Dr. Christina Ghaly, the county’s health services director, said the average number of people hospitalized on any given day due to coronavirus has remained fairly constant, and there is no immediate fear of medical centers running short on bed space. However, the increase in community transmission could threaten the availability of intensive-care unit space, she said.
Health officials warned that the reopening of businesses and recreational amenities, combined with ongoing mass protests against police brutality, would lead to an increase in public interaction that could cause a spike in cases.
And Ghaly said that an analysis of case figures and estimates found that roughly one in every 400 L.A. County residents were currently infectious, meaning they have the coronavirus but were not yet symptomatic and have not been formally diagnosed.
“What this means is that Angelenos over the course of a typical day are likely going to interact with a number of people who are potentially infectious,” she said. “If one in 400 people are infected and don’t necessarily know it and are able to transmit COVID-19, it’s entirely possible or even likely as the Safer At Home health officer orders are pared back that an average person in the average day may come in the vicinity of others that are infectious.”
And while Ferrer said the county has identified a number of illness clusters, the health department has not been able to specifically pinpoint whether mass protests were responsible for some of the recent spread.
“It’s highly likely, given the increased numbers that we’re seeing that some of this is in fact people who may have been in a crowded situation at one of the protests where there was spread,” she said.
(© Copyright 2020 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. City News Service contributed to this report.)