LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) — The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health Wednesday reported 1,642 newly confirmed cases of the coronavirus and 58 additional deaths, bringing countywide totals to 235,386 confirmed cases and 5,605 reported deaths.
Los Angeles County public health director Barbara Ferrer noted Wednesday that the county’s 14-day average daily rate of new cases had dropped below 200 and now stands at 198 per 100,000 residents.
Being below 200 cases per 100,000 residents makes the county eligible to consider waiver applications from schools and school districts interested in resuming in-person instruction.
Ferrer said county officials still need to review newly released protocols from the state about school reopenings and gatherings of young children before opening the waiver process.
County officials also continued to push residents to be tested if they think they’ve been exposed to COVID-19 despite new federal guidance downplaying the need for testing asymptomatic people.
The push was echoed by Gov. Gavin Newsom, who said, “I do not agree with the new CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) guidance. Full stop.” Newsom Wednesday announced an agreement aimed at vastly expanding the availability of testing statewide.
Los Angeles County public health director Barbara Ferrer called testing the “heart and soul” of efforts to contain the coronavirus and slowing community transmission of the illness.
“The L.A. County Department of Public Health continues to recommend that people who have been in close contact of someone who has tested positive for COVID-19 continue to get tested for the virus,” Ferrer said. “This is particularly important if you’ve been told by a public health official or your doctor that you need to get tested.
“As we know, people who are infected with COVID-19 can be asymptomatic and can potentially infect others, so it’s important for our contact tracers to be able to follow up with anyone whose been in close contact with a person who’s tested positive,” she said.
Health officials again mentioned the county’s generally downward trend of all key virus metrics in the county, including hospitalizations, positivity rate among those being tested and availability of hospital and ICU beds.
Health services director Dr. Christina Ghaly said the county’s transmission rate, or the average number of people that a coronavirus patient infects, stood at 0.92 as of Wednesday.
Ghaly also put out a call to residents interested in taking part in a clinical trial of a possible vaccine that will be conducted at Harbor-UCLA Medical Center. She encouraged anyone interested to enroll online at helpstopcovid.la.