After a record number of COVID-19 cases announced yesterday, County Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer revealed the number of cases identified in Los Angeles County over the past 24 hours was again sky-high.
There were 1633 new cases in the county as of Friday, according to the health department. That’s the third-highest one day total since the outbreak began, according the L.A. county coronavirus dashboard. Ferrer said that Friday’s number included 500 delayed cases from one lab.
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Lab delays have occurred nearly every week during the pandemic. Adding delayed numbers into the daily total has been commonplace for the county health department which means that, while not all days have delayed numbers, enough do for these record highs to seem significant.
Friday’s number also did not include new cases from Pasadena and Long Beach, which have their own health departments. On Thursday, their combined total of new cases was 84.
The new data brings the total confirmed cases in L.A. County to 70,475.
On Thursday, the county Department of Public Health reported 1,857 new confirmed coronavirus cases. It was the largest single-day number of new cases announced by the county during the pandemic, but health officials said, again, roughly 600 of those cases were the result of a backlog in the reporting of test results. Long Beach and Pasadena, which have their own health departments, combined to confirm an additional 84 cases. That gave the county 1,941 new confirmed cases total on Thursday.
The spiking numbers come about 2 weeks after the region’s stay-at-home order was modified, and after recent large gatherings at protests.
Usually, increased testing — which is good — is to blame for a higher case rate. Ferrer’s slides on Friday, however, showed a decline in testing over the last few days, which would dampen the theory that increased testing is responsible for the rise in new cases.
There may be another, more worrying number. When asked specifically what the current “R” — or effective transmission rate — is, Ferrer demurred.
But Dr. Christina Ghaly, the director of Health Services for L.A. County, said later in the press conference that R is “just slightly above 1. I’d say 1.2.” She said models show R constant and stable at that 1.2 rate through early July. Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti said it was close to 1.3 earlier this week.
At an R of 1, every infected person passes the virus on to only one other person, and the number of those infected remains steady. Above 1, the number of those infected begins to rise. At the hight of the pandemic in L.A., R was 3.
But small differences can still make a large difference, noted Ghaly, in availability of hospital beds over time.
The big spike in cases comes as a revised county health order takes effect that will permit film and TV production to resume in the county. L.A Mayor Eric Garcetti has said the city would also allow production to restart.
Last week, Dr. Ghaly noted that the “R” number seemed to be rising slightly. Based on modeling, Ghaly then warned, “The number of ICU beds may become inadequate…DHS is watching this number on a daily basis very carefully.”
On Friday, Ghaly indicated that concern is still real.
Ghaly emphasized that the department is working with hospitals across the county, both private and public, to help them surge ICU beds and allocate more PPE.
Ferrer showed slides on Friday that seemed to indicate hospitals had adequate supplies of both
Asked if the county was moving too fast with reopening given the numbers and modeling, Director Ferrer said she felt if “sectors open with the proper protocols, it can be done safely…But it does depend a lot on businesses doing their part.
“We’re watching to make sure that we don’t see indicators that will make us want to pause…or institute restrictions,” said Ferrer.
City News Service contributed to this report.