Another 21 deaths were reported, bringing the death toll to 6,727.By CBSLA Staff

LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) — Los Angeles County health officials said Thursday that they will be closely monitoring the daily COVID-19 case numbers in hopes that Wednesday’s spike does not become a trend.

“But if we’re seeing a few days or even throughout the whole week some increases, we’ll have to look closer at our data to figure out if there’s some commonality among those increases in cases,” said county’s public health officer, Dr. Muntu Davis.

On Wednesday, the county reported 1,645 new cases — a six-week high. Davis added that the spike could not be linked to Labor Day because it is too far removed, but it is not clear if it could be connected to any recent reopenings of businesses.

The county reported an additional 1,280 cases on Thursday, which is still well above the levels needed to potentially move out of the purple tier of the state’s monitoring system. The countywide total since the start of the pandemic is at 278,733.

Another 21 deaths were reported, bringing the death toll to 6,727.

This is a critical time for L.A. County, which is still stuck in the strictest level of the state’s four-tier reopening system, indicating widespread COVID-19 infection risk. The county recently had a testing positivity rate low enough to move to a less-restrictive tier, but it was unable to sustain the low number.

As of Wednesday, the county had a rate of 7.4 new cases per 100,000 residents. To move out of the purple tier, the positivity rate needs to drop to 7 or below.

Public health director Dr. Barbara Ferrer noted that the county’s recent daily average case numbers have
fallen to levels not seen in late April and early May, so Wednesday’s spike could prove to be an anomaly.

Hospitalizations were at 709 Thursday, which is up from 696 on Wednesday.

Davis said a key element of reducing the transmission of COVID-19 is contact tracing, and the county has been having success with that. According to him, 63% of people who have contracted the virus in L.A. County have taken part in contact-tracing interviews, while the rest either declined to be interviewed or couldn’t be located.

“This is very good news, as our ability to reach out to people who may be potentially infected is a very important tool we have in identifying and slowing the spread the virus,” Davis said. “Speaking to cases and identifying their close contacts is a very important part of reducing transmission of COVID-19.”

He urged anyone who receives a call from the county to speak to the contact tracers.

“I will say that every time we’re able to talk to a person, we’re able to provide information, find out who might have also been exposed and inform them of their potential risk,” Davis said. “So the more we can do that, the higher percentage we can do that, the more likely we are  to be able to stop the transmission among people who many not know that they were exposed.”

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