With 1,645 new cases, the county's total number of cases has reached 277,445.By CBSLA Staff

LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) — Los Angeles County on Wednesday reported its highest daily count of new coronavirus cases in six weeks.

With 1,645 new cases, the county’s total number of cases has reached 277,445. An additional 30 fatalities were also reported, bringing the death toll to 6,709.

Public health director Dr. Barbara Ferrer said that this spike in cases should not immediately cause alarm, although it is the most new cases the county has seen in a single day since Aug. 22.

“While one day of a high number of cases does not indicate a trend, this is something we need to watch closely,” Ferrer said.

L.A. County has been trying to lower its daily case counts, hoping to move to the red tier of the state’s COVID-19 monitoring system and begin lifting some additional restrictions. The testing positivity rate is at 2.8%, which meets the orange tier’s criteria (two steps from where the county currently is), but the rate of new cases per 100,000 residents remains too high, at 7.4.

The county must average 7 new cases per 100,000 residents to move out of the purple tier.

We need to continue to try to reduce our case numbers, and we do this by protecting workers, wearing our cloth face coverings, maintaining a 6-foot distance and washing our hands,” Ferrer said. “This would be the way we have in front of us now to reduce transmission rates even while we reopen additional sectors.”

The new numbers are discouraging for some small businesses, including Mister O’s in Studio City. The restaurant staff said they are working hard to keep things clean, but have noticed more people not following health guidelines.

“It’s what we deal with on a daily basis,” said one employee. “We’ve got a lot of people who show up and don’t wear masks.”

After months of closure, Wednesday marked a milestone for L.A. County as indoor shopping malls were permitted to reopen at 25% capacity. Food courts and common areas remain closed.

Hospitalizations in the county related to the coronavirus were at 696 as of Wednesday, up from 685 on Tuesday and 674 on Monday.

Ferrer said that the number of hospitalizations has been trending downward for weeks, now sitting well below the July averages of about 2,200 a day.

“It’s good news and we believe it reflects both improved therapy and care for patients with COVID-19 that may lead to shorter lengths of stay, as well as the fact that we know we have a much younger population of residents who are infected now, and they may be less likely as a group overall to require hospitalization,” she said.

(© Copyright 2020 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. City News Service contributed to this report.)

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