LA County could advance to red tier in state's COVID matrix by October, public health director says

Get updates on the coronavirus in Los Angeles including new case numbers, response efforts and latest news.
LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- Los Angeles County: 256,148 cases, 6,303 deaths
Orange County: 51,124 cases, 1,105 deaths
San Bernardino County: 50,978, 835 deaths
Riverside County: 55,986 cases, 1,125 deaths
Ventura County: 11,693 cases, 138 deaths

WEDNESDAY'S UPDATE: Sept. 16, 2020


Downward trends in coronavirus cases and testing-positivity rates could allow Los Angeles County to move into the next tier of the state's economic-reopening matrix by sometime in October, the public health director said, but pending Labor Day numbers could potentially thwart that move.

The county is in the most restrictive, or "purple,'' level of the state's four-tier virus-tracking roadmap. The county already has a low enough seven-day average testing positivity rate -- around 3.2% -- to move to a less-restrictive tier, but average new case numbers are still too high, currently averaging 8.1 cases per 100,000 residents. The state threshold for advancing to the "red'' tier is seven cases per 100,000. The move would allow businesses such as gyms and movie theaters to reopen with restrictions.

But public health director Barbara Ferrer said numbers in all categories have been trending downward over the past six weeks, following a spike seen after the Fourth of July holiday weekend.

"If we don't see a surge in cases and hospitalizations associated with activities over Labor Day and we continue to reduce our rate of community transmission over the weeks ahead, we could enter tier 2, which is a less restrictive tier, sometime in October,'' Ferrer said.

TUESDAY'S UPDATE: Sept. 15, 2020


Health officials announced another 47 coronavirus-related deaths in Los Angeles County, bringing the cumulative countywide total from throughout the pandemic to 6,273.

The county also announced another 474 new cases, lifting the overall total to 255,049. A total of 772 people were hospitalized due to the virus as of Tuesday.

L.A. County remains on the purple tier, the state's most restrictive tier, and is trying to move into the less restrictive red tier. In total, there are 30 counties in the purple tier.

"As it relates to Los Angeles County, indeed, their transmission rates are coming down. I think it comes on the backs of a lot of really hard work from a number of people in the Los Angeles community, where we've seen increased testing," said California Health and Human Services Director Dr. Mark Ghaly.

When it comes to school, Debra Duardo, superintendent for the L.A. County Office of Education, says some students are already going back in small groups. These are students with special needs or those with special education plans.

"As we are looking at the numbers throughout the county, if those numbers are coming down and the Department of Public Health gives us the go-ahead, then we will start looking at bringing our other students back, most likely in a hybrid model," Duardo said.

State officials say they are getting numerous question about Halloween. They say children can still dress up, but going door-to-door wouldn't be safe.

"We're really urging people to be prepared for a different type of Halloween. As I said last week, trick-or-treating, the type of mixing that comes in our traditional trick-or-treating festivities is really not advised under COVID," Ghaly said.

WEDNESDAY'S UPDATE: Sept. 9, 2020


Health officials announced another 61 coronavirus-related deaths in Los Angeles County, bringing the cumulative countywide total from throughout the pandemic to 6,090.

Los Angeles County Public Health Director Dr. Barbara Ferrer also announced another 671 new cases, lifting the overall total to 249,859.

She noted that the case number continues to be unusually low due to lags in reporting from the holiday weekend, along with the limited availability of testing due to the holiday and the excessive heat.

A total of 936 people were hospitalized due to the virus as of Wednesday, continuing a roughly monthlong decline.

MONDAY'S UPDATE: Sept. 6, 2020


Los Angeles County reported 798 new cases of COVID-19 and five more deaths on Monday, bringing the county's totals to 248,334 cases and 6,005 fatalities.

Officials with the county's Department of Public Health said the low case and deaths counts likely reflect a reporting lag due to the holiday weekend.

The number of people hospitalized in the county continued its steady decline, dropping from 984 Saturday to 966. County officials noted that figure is at least a 50% drop from the early August totals that topped 2,000.

Testing results were available for 2,373,050 individuals with 10% of all people testing positive.

Health officials continue to track the number of positive cases and deaths among health care workers, announcing a total of 87 deaths and 14,448 positive cases among health care workers and first responders in Los Angeles County.

Nurses continue to account for the majority of cases (37%) and deaths (41%) among the sector. One-third of health care workers who tested positive for the virus worked at skilled nursing and assisted living facilities and 26% worked at hospitals.

Our hearts are with all who have lost their loved ones to COVID-19, and may peace and comfort find each of you during these difficult times,'' Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer said. Our thoughts are also with all the families and friends of health care workers, who worry each day about the risks their loved ones face as they care for our sick and disabled residents.

...Everyone needing care has been served by dedicated and skilled teams of front-line health care workers who are at higher risk of exposure to COVID-19 than most everyone else. This labor day holiday serves as a reminder of our collective responsibility to make sure that all health care workers have appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE), training, and access to quality health care.''

Officials continued urging residents to celebrate the Labor Day holiday safely and without large parties or gatherings, noting that spikes in cases, hospitalizations, and deaths were seen after the Memorial Day and July 4th holidays.

The county said beaches will remain open over the holiday weekend, despite concerns about large crowds that might flock to the sand to escape the heat wave expected to bake the Southland through Monday. But officials with the county Department of Beaches and Harbors warned that health restrictions remain in place, meaning beachgoers must practice social distancing and wear face coverings when not in the water, eating or drinking.

And if crowds get too large and people aren't adhering to the guidelines, the beaches could be cleared.

We cannot stress enough the importance of following the public health guidelines,'' Beaches and Harbor Director Gary Jones said in a statement. It is absolutely imperative that beachgoers avoid crowds. If the beaches get too crowded, we may be forced to close them again.''

County officials are hoping to avoid a repeat of the coronavirus setbacks experienced following the Memorial Day and Fourth of July holidays, which led to dramatic spikes in virus cases, hospitalizations and deaths. All three of those metrics have been trending downward in recent weeks in the county, and health officials have been making pleas for the past two weeks that residents avoid Labor Day parties or gatherings with people outside their own households.

Public health officials urged people to only gather with members of their household, and to use their own utensils, cups, food, and drinks and not share with others.

The county Department of Beaches and Harbors also stressed that barbecues and bonfires are prohibited at the beaches and in beach parking lots.

FRIDAY'S UPDATE: Sept. 4, 2020


The City of Los Angeles is closing all of its COVID-19 testing sites over Labor Day weekend due to the holiday and the heat wave.

Some pop-up testing centers will remain open.

Meantime, Los Angeles County is closing some testing centers, but some will remain open.

For more information on testing, visit covid19.lacounty.gov/testing.

THURSDAY'S UPDATE: Sept. 3, 2020


Los Angeles County reported 1,193 new cases of COVID-19 and 61 new deaths on Thursday. County officials are emphasizing the importance of taking preventative steps in the workplace to limit the spread of the virus.

The county is making sure that businesses and workers know the steps they are supposed to take if they have a cluster of cases within the workplace. If a business has three or more confirmed COVID-19 cases within a 14-day period, employers are required to call county Public Health immediately at: 888-397-3993.

There is also a hotline for workers and employers to anonymously report coronavirus outbreaks or other health violations by calling the Environmental Health Customer Call Center at (888)700-9995, Monday - Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., excluding holidays or go to the online complaint system.

County officials are also urging people to exercise restraint over the Labor Day holiday weekend, and avoid large gatherings. They noted that after Memorial Day, the county saw a sharp surge in COVID-19 cases.

WEDNESDAY'S UPDATE: Sept. 2, 2020


Officials announced on Wednesday that Los Angeles County will allow some in-person instruction to resume for students in kindergarten through 12th grade, but only for small groups of students with individualized learning plans, students requiring instruction for English as a second language and students needing other specialized in-school services.''

All other students will still be limited to remote learning.

Los Angeles County officials said indoor hair salons and barbershops can resume operating, but limited to 25% of capacity. The county is still not authorizing the reopening of indoor shopping malls, even though new state guidelines that took effect Monday allow those malls to open with capacity limited to 25%.

Individual counties can impose regulations that are stricter than the state guidelines. Malls in some other counties, including Orange County, began reopening Monday.

Los Angeles County Supervisors Janice Hahn and Hilda Solis said that while hair salons and barbershops will have to adhere to the 25% capacity limit, officials plan to review the operations after Labor and consider possibly increasing the limit.

The county has seen downward trends in coronavirus cases, deaths and hospitalizations in recent weeks, and officials appear to be taking a cautious approach to reopenings of new businesses to avoid a repeat of earlier spikes.

County Health Officer Dr. Muntu Davis announced another 51 COVID-19 deaths Wednesday, although one of those fatalities was reported Tuesday by Long Beach health officials. Long Beach and Pasadena each reported five additional deaths Wednesday.

The new fatalities increased the overall death toll in the county since the pandemic began to 5,888.

Davis said that 22 of Wednesday's fatalities reported by the county were people over the age of 80. Strikingly, two of the deaths were people between the ages of 18 and 29 who had no underlying health conditions.

Meanwhile, there were 1,457 new cases announced by the county, along with 54 by Long Beach and 15 by Pasadena, bringing the cumulative figure to 244,004.

Davis said that more than 2.3 million people have been tested countywide, with 10% testing positive.

He also said there have been 1,589 cases involving people experiencing homelessness.

According to the county, the seven-day average daily number of new cases has dropped to 1,300, continuing a steady decline. Health officials have been reporting downward trends in new cases, deaths and hospitalizations -- with 1,048 people hospitalized with the virus as of Wednesday.

Solis urged residents to continue to be diligent in following health guidelines over Labor Day weekend to prevent a resurgence of the virus. The Department of Public Health has been trying to promote that message for several days, particularly with hot weather expected over the long holiday weekend.

The Fourth of July and Memorial Day holiday weekends both resulted in dramatic spikes in coronavirus cases in the county.

City News Service contributed to this report.

TUESDAY'S UPDATE: Sept. 1, 2020


Although state guidelines are allowing the reopening of some businesses like hair salons, Los Angeles County officials are taking a more cautious approach, not allowing them to reopen just yet.

Additionally, county health officials are reminding residents it is time to get vaccinated for influenza. Officials say limiting flu cases will help keep the strain off the local health system as it continues to deal with thousands of COVID-19 cases.

MONDAY'S UPDATE: August 31, 2020


On Monday, health officials warned the public ahead of the Labor Day holiday weekend to "heed the lessons learned" after there were spikes in cases, hospitalizations and deaths that occurred following previous holidays, including Memorial Day and the Fourth of July.

Health officials said it is important for residents to find ways to celebrate Labor Day without going to events hosted by people outside of their households.

Officials also confirmed 16 additional deaths and 1,022 new cases of COVID-19 in Los Angeles County. There are a total of 241,768 positive COVID-19 cases and 5,784 total fatalities. Officials said upon further investigation, three cases and one death reported earlier were not Los Angeles County residents.

SATURDAY'S UPDATE: August 29, 2020


Los Angeles County reported 1,339 new cases of COVID-19 and 27 additional deaths on Saturday, bringing the county's totals to 239,756 cases and 5,759 fatalities.

The number of people hospitalized as of Saturday was 1,116, down from 1,168 on Friday and well below last month, when the number regularly topped 2,000.

Although coronavirus cases, deaths and hospitalizations have been declining in general of late, the county Department of Public Health continued to warn residents not to become lax in following preventive guidelines, such as wearing face coverings and social distancing.

On Thursday, the agency recognized the resurgence of protests in recent days, fueled by the Wisconsin police shooting of Jacob Blake, and noted planned gatherings Saturday to mark the 50th anniversary of the Chicano Moratorium.

The county urged people planning to take part in such events to stay home if they are sick, seek medical attention if they are displaying COVID-19 symptoms, wear a face covering, try to maintain physical distance from others, bring along hand sanitizer and keep their hands clean.

County health officials are warning that the coronavirus can infect children as easily as it can adults, while also reporting three additional local cases of a pediatric inflammatory syndrome linked to COVID-19 infections.

Gov. Gavin Newsom on Friday released a revised system for tracking counties' efforts to slow the spread of the coronavirus, and providing guidance on possible reopening of more businesses and schools.

But the county stressed that local officials had not yet fully reviewed the new state guidance, and the local health order has not been changed to allow such businesses to reopen.

We extend our condolences to all who are grieving the loss of a loved one to COVID-19, and may peace and comfort find you during this difficult time,'' said Barbara Ferrer, the county's director of public health.

In order for our county to move through the state's tier structure which will allow us to reopen more businesses, we must slow the COVID-19 transmission rates we are seeing. Currently, we are in Tier 1 with widespread community transmission and an average of about 13 new cases a day per 100,000 residents. This tier carries the most restrictions for the re-opening of many sectors. To demonstrate reduced spread of the virus and move to Tier 2, we need to reduce our transmission rate to 7 new cases a day per 100,000 residents,'' she continued.

...For everyone throwing or attending parties, hanging out in crowded spaces, or insisting that the public health rules don't apply to you or your business, your actions make it much more likely that we remain in Tier 1 for many weeks to come; this makes it harder for our children to get back to school and for many adults to get back to work.''

The health department on Friday also confirmed another three local cases of multisystem inflammatory syndrome, or MIS-C, in children, bringing the total to 28. The syndrome affects primarily children, but can be found in people up to age 20, resulting in inflammation of body parts including the heart, lungs, kidneys, brain, skin eyes and gastrointestinal organs, potentially having life-long health impacts.

There have not been any deaths from the syndrome reported in the county.

City News Service contributed to this report.

WEDNESDAY'S UPDATE: August 26, 2020


Los Angeles County continues to inch close to meeting the standards to be removed from the state's COVID-19 county watch list, health officials say.

Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer reported 198 cases per 100,000 residents. County officials say Los Angeles has met five of the state's six indicators to get off the list - and is getting closer to meeting the sixth. That sixth indicator is getting the case rate to less than 100 per 100,000 residents.

Officials also confirmed 58 new deaths and 1,642 additional cases, bringing the county's total to 5,663 deaths and 235,386 cases.

Counties on the watch list must have additional business closures beyond what is already required statewide, including gyms and fitness centers, beauty salons and shopping malls, among others.

Separate from the watch list, Gov. Gavin Newsom has allowed other counties the discretion to reopen schools for in-person learning when the rate has gone below 200 cases per 100,000 residents.

MONDAY'S UPDATE: August 24, 2020


Los Angeles County officials reported 989 new coronavirus cases on Tuesday - the first time that daily update has been under 1,000 cases since early June. In mid-July the county was reporting an average of 3,200 cases per day.

The county also reported 51 additional deaths.

SUNDAY'S UPDATE: August 23, 2020


Los Angeles County reported another 1,098 cases of COVID-19 and eight additional deaths on Sunday, bringing the county's totals to 231,695 cases and 5,545 fatalities.

The relatively lower number of cases and deaths was attributed to reporting delays over the weekend.

Officials have hailed declining hospitalization numbers and testing-positivity rates in recent weeks as signs the county has been successfully slowing the spread of COVID-19. Those numbers continued to trend in the right direction Sunday, with hospitalizations falling from 1,280 Saturday to 1,247, and 33% percent of those in intensive care.

An average of roughly 2,200 hospital patients were seen in mid-July.

Testing results were available for 2,182,882 individuals as of Sunday, with 10% of all people testing positive.

Officials noted that despite the encouraging trends, the virus is far from under control.

I want to extend my sincere sympathy to all our L.A. County residents that are grieving the loss of a family member, friend, co-worker or loved one. Your loss is not unnoticed, and we keep you in our hearts during these days of sadness,'' Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer said.

The positive trends that the county is seeing are encouraging and reflect less transmission of the virus at workplaces and in the community. We must continue taking all the actions that got us to this place. Residents are urged to physically distance from those not in their household, wash hands frequently, avoid gatherings and crowds, and wear a clean cloth face covering that securely covers both their nose and mouth when in contact with others not part of their household. These are the actions we each take for each other that help the county in its recovery efforts.''

Taking part in an ABC7 online question-and-answer session Friday, Ferrer noted that two weeks after the Fourth of July weekend, the county had our worst-ever surge in cases and hospitalizations.''

Of course, we're looking to what we can do differently around Labor Day,'' Ferrer said.

She didn't offer any specifics in terms of what steps might be taken to prevent a repeat of the post-July 4 and Memorial Day spikes, but Ferrer said she hopes people take heed of the public-gathering restrictions during the upcoming Labor Day weekend.

Ferrer noted recently that the county now meets five of the state's six criteria for controlling infections, falling short only in the per-capita rate of people testing positive for the virus.

Until the county meets all six of the criteria, it will remain on the state's coronavirus monitoring list, which prevents more businesses from reopening and requires school campuses to remain closed.

L.A. County was one of 35 counties on the watchlist as of Sunday.

Orange County was removed from the list this weekend.

City News Service contributed to this report.

SATURDAY'S UPDATE: August 22, 2020


Los Angeles County reported another 1,644 cases of COVID-19 and 48 more deaths on Saturday, bringing the county's totals to 230,662 cases and 5,537 fatalities.

Officials have hailed declining hospitalization numbers and testing-positivity rates in recent weeks as signs that the county has been successfully slowing the spread of COVID-19. Those numbers continued to trend in the right direction Saturday, with hospitalizations falling from 1,347 on Friday to 1,280, and 33% percent of those in intensive care.

An average of roughly 2,200 hospital patients were seen in mid-July.

Testing results were available for 2,168,595 individuals as of Saturday, with 10% of all people testing positive.

Officials noted that despite the encouraging trends, the virus is far from under control.

"Though there are promising signs that our collective efforts to slow the spread of COVID-19 are working, we are sad to report today that more Angelenos have lost their lives to COVID-19, and their loved ones are in our hearts as they mourn,'' Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer said.

"As we begin another hot summer weekend in Southern California, it's important that we remain mindful of all the precautions we have to continue to take if we want to decrease community transmission enough to re-open schools. Being around people who aren't part of your household puts you and them at a greater risk for COVID-19, which is why it is so important to stay at home as much as possible and avoid all gatherings, of any size, with people who are not part of your household.''

Taking part in an ABC7 online question-and-answer session Friday, Barbara Ferrer noted that two weeks after the Fourth of July weekend, the county had "our worst-ever surge in cases and hospitalizations.''

"Of course, we're looking to what we can do differently around Labor Day,'' Ferrer said.

She didn't offer any specifics in terms of what steps might be taken to prevent a repeat of the post-July 4 and Memorial Day spikes, but Ferrer said she hopes people take heed of the public-gathering restrictions during the upcoming Labor Day weekend.

Ferrer noted recently that the county now meets five of the state's six criteria for controlling infections, falling short only in the per-capita rate of people testing positive for the virus.

Until the county meets all six of the criteria, it will remain on the state's coronavirus monitoring list, which prevents more businesses from reopening and requires school campuses to remain closed.

Younger residents continue to make up the majority of positive new cases. Of the new cases reported Saturday, 71% are of people under the age of 50 years old. Residents between the ages of 30 and 49 have the highest number of new cases among all age groups in L.A. County, 35% of Saturday's new cases.

City News Service contributed to this report.

FRIDAY'S UPDATE: August 21, 2020


Los Angeles County public health officials on Friday reported an additional 46 deaths and 1,759 new COVID-19 cases, bringing the region's total to 5,491 deaths and 229,054 confirmed cases.

There were 1,347 confirmed cases hospitalized and 32% of those were confirmed cases in the ICU.

The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health also reported nine additional cases of Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome in Children (MIS-C) on Friday, which brings the total cases of MIS-C in the county to 25 children.

Officials said 28% of those cases were between the ages of 0 and 5 years old, 44% were between the ages of 6 and 12 years old, and 28% were between the ages of 13 and 20 years old. The majority of cases, 68%, were Latino.

No children with MIS-C in Los Angeles County have died.

Mayor Eric Garcetti also announced the city's L.A. Al Fresco, an outdoor dining program launched amid the pandemic, will be extended through the end of this year.

THURSDAY'S UPDATE: August 20, 2020


Los Angeles County officials have released new data examining the underlying causes and common factors involved in the county's COVID-19 deaths.

Of the 5,446 deaths the county has seen since the start of the pandemic, 92% of the people had underlying health conditions. Hypertension and diabetes were the leading conditions, while neurologic conditions and cardiovascular disease were also common.

Still, the county along with California as a while is seeing improvements in its positivity rates and hospitalizations. The county was averaging about 3,200 new cases during the surge in July and now that figure is closer to 2,000 per day according to Dr. Jeffrey Gunzenhauser with LA County Department of Public Health.

The positivity rate is around 250 people per 100,000 living in the county. If the rate drops below 200, that would allow pre-K to 6th grade schools to reopen. Getting the number down below 100 would get Los Angeles off the state's county watchlist.

WEDNESDAY'S UPDATE: August 19, 2020


Los Angeles County officials on Wednesday reported an additional 61 deaths and 1,956 new COVID-19 cases, bringing the region's total to 5,392 deaths and 225,827 confirmed cases.

Nearly 1,400 people in the county are currently hospitalized with the virus.

RELATED: LA County updates from the month of July are available here.
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