Los Angeles County seeing uptick in coronavirus transmission rate

Even as the state eases restrictions on group gatherings, LA County is seeing an increase in COVID-19 transmission.

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Friday, October 16, 2020
LA County seeing rise in COVID-19 transmission
Even as the state eases restrictions on group gatherings, Los Angeles County is seeing an increase in coronavirus transmission rates.

LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- After steady decreases in recent weeks, Los Angeles County is seeing a new increase in the transmission rate of the coronavirus.

The rise is coming even as the state eases some of its guidelines restricting small gatherings.

The county's transmission rate, also known as the R number, has increased above 1.0, meaning each person who gets the virus on average infects more than one person. An R rate below 1.0 means the overall number of infected people is expected to decrease, while above 1.0 means it will increase.

With Halloween and other holidays coming up, the state recently relaxed some of its guidelines on gatherings, saying up to three households can gather if it is outside, masks are worn and social distancing if practiced. They are asked to limit the gathering to two hours or less.

RELATED: California eases gathering rules

As the holiday season looms near, getting together with family may look a little different as California health officials released new guidelines for holding private gatherings on Friday.

Los Angeles County health officer Dr. Muntu Davis said while it is better if people from separate households don't gather at all, if they do they should be sure to take the recommended precautions.

"We recommend that if you don't have to do this, please don't," Davis said. "Because it does increase the risk, the more people that you interact with and the closer you are. But if it is going to happen, then here are the guidance and rules for doing that."

Some of the rules limiting contact for coronavirus are expected to reduce the influenza season this year as well. Still, Los Angeles county has issued new guidelines seeking to stop the spread of flu in nursing homes. The guidelines call for nursing homes to offer flu shots to all residents. If a flu outbreak is reported, the home needs to restrict all nonessential visitations.

"As we've seen from countries in the Southern Hemisphere who have already had their flu seasons, these actions can be effective in slowing the spread of both viruses," Davis said. "And many have seen fairly mild flu seasons."

Davis is also blasting a herd immunity plan that the White House is said to be warming to. It's called the Great Barrington Declaration. It proposes to let people who are not at highest risk for the virus to resume their normal activities, while only those at the greatest risk are isolated and protected. That would let the virus spread unchecked through much of the population, theoretically developing herd immunity.

A number of medical experts have blasted the plan because of the damage it would likely cause.

Davis notes that deaths would significantly multiply because the country is nowhere close to developing herd immunity.

"There's no evidence that we in the United States are close to herd immunity, as 85 to 90% of the population is still at risk for becoming infected with COVID-19," Davis said. "And we've also seen attempts at herd immunity fail during the pandemic as it did in Sweden, and it resulted in very high mortality rates."

Also, the city of Burbank is planning to start enforcing mask rules with fines beginning Friday. The city says it continues to receive complaints about people not wearing masks in public, particularly in popular areas like the Chandler Bikeway, downtown Burbank, the Magnolia Park business district and in city parks.

Burbank has entered into an agreement with a contractor to help issue citations for those not wearing masks in public where required, particularly in those areas. The fines start at $100 for a first violation, $200 for a second and $500 for additional violations within the same 12-month period.