After weeks of declining coronavirus numbers, Los Angeles County is once again seeing a “concerning” uptick in virus transmission, officials said over the weekend.
There were 2,238 new cases confirmed Sunday — a day that usually sees lower-than-usual case numbers because of less labs reporting on weekends.
It’s the fourth day in a row that daily coronavirus cases topped 2,000 in the county — numbers not seen since August.
On Wednesday, COVID-19 hospitalizations climbed over 800 for the first time since mid-September and the number remained elevated over the weekend, with 851 people in hospitals with COVID-19 Sunday, 29% of them in intensive care units.
“Our metrics this week are concerning and confirm that transmission of COVID-19 is widespread and increasing in L.A County,” officials from the L.A. County Department of Public Health said.
L.A. County has so far recorded 322,207 coronavirus cases and 7,172 deaths attributed to COVID-19. The county’s seven-day average coronavirus positivity rate hit 4.8% Sunday, spiking from 4.1% in less than a week.
The trends mirror rising numbers seen statewide, but still not as sharp of an increase that’s being recorded in the rest of the country.
Health officials on Thursday described L.A. County’s uptick as a “slow gradual increase” in cases, with infections tilting more towards younger people.
L.A. County Chief Health Officer Dr. Paul Simon said that there’s been no conclusive proof of what’s behind the increase, but the department believes it’s tied to more people gathering —especially during holidays or after the Lakers and Dodgers wins— and also fatigue from coronavirus restrictions and a “false sense of security” that people have when gathering with people they know from other households.
A USC study found that there’s been a 57% increase in people reporting close contact with people they don’t live with since April.
With widespread celebrations seen throughout the county after the U.S. presidential race was called for Joe Biden, the health department issued warnings.
“Because we are still in the midst of a pandemic, we cannot afford to gather in ways that increase transmission of the virus,” Health Director Barbara Ferrer said. “Let us remember that no matter how we feel, we all have an obligation to protect each other from COVID-19. Gathering with people outside of your household, especially in settings where people are shouting, chanting, or singing and not distancing can easily lead to increased cases of COVID-19. This will slow down our recovery and can result in more illness and deaths.”