“The metrics posted by the state yesterday indicate that we’ve posted number that qualifies us to reopen further,” said L.A. County Director of Health and Human Services Barbara Ferrer. But, as Deadline has previously reported, the county must maintain those numbers for the next week in order to qualify to reopen further. And that’s not looking good.
“Unfortunately, we did see an increase in cases last week,” said Ferrer, “so we’re not sure we’ll see another week where our numbers meet the threshold. We will continue to keep an eye on this, especially since these increases are happening after the Labor Day weekend.”
What’s more, said Dr. Christina Ghaly, for the first time in weeks the “R” number is greater that one. That number indicates how many additional people are getting the virus for every person infected. If R is over 1, then the virus us spreading.
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“R has increased to just above 1,” announced Ghaly, “at 1.02 It indicates that transmission is increasing over time.”
If the county should be allowed to reopen further, said Ferrer, it may not open to the full extent permitted by the state. County officials are trying to get ahead of that and make those determinations now.
“We will be working with the board in the upcoming days to make data-informed decisions about all the permitted options while we’re [still] in tier 1 for reopening.”
Said Ferrer, “We’re gonna use the lessons of the past to guide our decisions to reopen.”
On Tuesday she said, “I will reserve final judgement for a couple more weeks until we see increases from Labor Day as well as some of our sectors that have been allowed to reopen.”
All of this comes just two days after Hollywood unions and management agreed upon a series of coronavirus protocols for resuming work.
Later in the news conference, the health department director sought to refute the idea that COVID-19 is no worse than the flu.
“I do want to emphasize — especially for those who continue to believe that COVID-19 is no worse than a bad case of influenza — that it’s much worse,” she said.
“We’ve probably had 20-30% more deaths in May, June and July of 2020,” reported Ferrer, “than we saw for the prior 3 years in the same months.”
“This has translated into thousands of deaths that would not otherwise have occurred,” she said, especially among the less wealthy. Communities with the highest rate of poverty in Los Angeles, revealed Ferrer, have three times the mortality rate of more affluent areas.”
As for those numbers, the county recorded 31 COVID-related deaths on Wednesday, for a total of 6,423.
There were 1,265 new coronavirus cases for a total of 263,333. That’s an uptick from the 810 new cases reported on Tuesday, but consistent with lower numbers coming in earlier in the week because fewer tests are done on weekends.
L.A. county health officials said they are keeping close watch on new case numbers this week, noting Monday that there was unsettling uptick in daily new case reports four days last week, potentially indicating a possible spike in cases following the Labor Day holiday weekend.