LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) — The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health Monday reported 1,413 newly confirmed coronavirus cases and five deaths, bringing countywide totals to 323,625 cases and 7,177 deaths — continuing a surge in cases the county has seen over the past few weeks.
“The surge is not as steep as what we saw in July, but we’re very concerned that the numbers can continue to increase,” Dr. Barbara Ferrer, county public health director, said. “From September to October, we saw an average number of daily cases go from a little over 750 cases per day to almost 1,400 cases per day. And over the weekend, we reported for Saturday and Sunday alone, a total of 4,600 cases, which is about 2,300 cases per day.”
Of those whose deaths were newly reported, one person was over the age of 80, two were between the ages of 65 and 79 and two were between the ages of 50 and 64. Four had underlying health conditions.
“These numbers are demonstrating real and alarming increases and the next two weeks will be crucial as we go into our cooler months and many holidays, we are increasingly worried about more and more transmission of the virus and more hospitalizations and deaths from COVID-19,” Ferrer said.
Ferrer also said that the department was expanding its community outreach efforts in hard-hit areas such as Pacoima, Sun Valley and Palmdale — all of which have seen a two-week case rate of more than 400 per 100,000 residents, compared to the countywide rate of 188 cases per 100,000 residents.
Other communities hard-hit by the most recent COVID-19 surge included East Los Angeles, Van Nuys, El Monte, Downey, Pomona, North Hollywood, Glendale, Santa Clarita, South Gate, Florence-Firestone, Canoga Park and Panorama City.
“For everyone who’s living in these communities, please note you need to take extra precautions,” Ferrer said. “And if you’ve had an exposure, you should know that there’s plenty of testing available so you can go in immediately and find a place to get tested.”
The community outreach program will focus on educating people in these communities about the virus, how its spread, its symptoms and things that can be done to minimize transmission — such as frequent hand washing, wearing face coverings and keeping six feet of distance from people who do not live in the same household.
Due to the ongoing increase in case rate numbers, Ferrer made another public plea for residents to adhere to health restrictions and avoid gatherings.
“This isn’t a blip any longer,” she said. “This isn’t, ‘Oh we had one bad weekend and we’re now getting it back under control.’ This is now a surge in our cases and if it continues it will be quite alarming to go into our coldest months seeing this level of increase of cases.”
Ferrer said that the county did not want to be in a position of having to shut down more businesses, but if residents did not take infection-control measures seriously to slow the spread of the virus, action could be taken.
“There is no real path forward until we get back to slowing the spread,” she said. “We don’t have the luxury of ignoring our individual and collective responsibilities if we want to see more children go to school and
our businesses remain open.
“Recovery just doesn’t continue when you have thousands of new cases each day, and many of these cases stem from people taking risks that are frankly not appropriate,” she continued. “It isn’t that hard to play by the rules, especially since these rules are what keep some people alive and allow our economy to improve.”
(© Copyright 2020 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. City News Service contributed to this report.)