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A power-driven coronavirus river? It’s still not clear

When Los Angeles County officials explain the massive coronavirus outbreak that struck this summer, they often point to Memorial Day and the Fourth of July, two long weekends when meetings with friends and family drove the spread of the virus.

Now, two weeks after the Labor Day holiday, officials are worried that the same pattern will emerge.

In several days last week, LA County reported more than 1,000 new cases of coronavirus, an increase from the week before. There is not yet enough data to draw clear conclusions, but the “worrying trend”

; repeats what happened earlier this year, said LA County Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer.

“We have four days of data from last week that showed a significant increase in the number of cases,” she said in a press release on Monday. “We need to pay attention to the data this week.”

The picture may become clearer as soon as Wednesday, when a new daily number of bills will be issued and Ferrer will hold a new press conference.

Because it can take up to two weeks to show symptoms after being infected, these cases can be those that were contracted during the Labor Day holiday, she said.

But apart from the timing, there is no indication that gatherings during the long weekend are the cause. Even the rises that came after Memorial Day and the fourth of July were also linked to other factors, including protests and a rapid reopening of businesses that ultimately had to be rolled back.

In early to mid-September, the number of daily cases of coronavirus was lower than usual, in part because test sites were closed due to a combination of extreme heat, fires and dangerous air quality, Ferrer said. So it is possible that people who delayed testing when capacity was limited can be tested now and temporarily inflate the number of bills.

Ferrer said she was “cautiously optimistic” that the number of cases would start falling again, but could not be sure that the increases will only be a blip until later in the week.

Other indicators of coronavirus transmission in LA County remain flat or dropping. The county’s degree of positivity – the percentage of administered tests that return positive – has decreased steadily over the past six weeks and is at a record low, according to county data. The number of people in the hospital with COVID-19 is also lower than it has been since at least April, according to Times data.

On July 18, a few weeks after the holiday on July 4, there were 2232 people in the hospital with COVID-19. On Sunday it was 745.

Regardless, the recent increase in coronavirus transmission LA County puts back its progress toward reopening.

To move on to the next level of reopening, the county only needs to see seven new cases of coronavirus every day per 100,000 inhabitants, maintained consistently for two weeks. When it reaches that goal, restaurants, gyms, churches and more could open indoors with limited capacity.

The county met that standard during the week of September 6-12, but the latest increase in cases is likely to save it again.

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