County health officer Dr. Muntu Davis said the county reported a staggering 5,031 new confirmed cases of coronavirus Thursday, the highest number reported in the region in a single day since the start of the pandemic.
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That number doesn't include a backlog in the reporting of cases from testing labs. The county also reported another 29 deaths, raising the death toll to 7,363.
"If our numbers are really that high, something needs to be done very differently -- either with our orders, but really in practice in the community, because that's really where most things are happening in order slow that spread," Davis said.
He said the county's surging numbers have now exceeded the spike seen in mid-summer, jumping 68% since the end of October, compared to a 43% increase that occurred between mid-June and early July.
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"At this point, no one should be still underestimating the spread of this virus, nor should anyone be questioning the actions we still need to slow the spread and lessen its impact on our collective health and our local economy," Davis said.
Davis said that with Thursday's record case number, the county now has a two-day average of about 4,500 cases -- the threshold for implementing the stay-at-home restrictions.
"That is only a two-day average and we still have a few more days to go, but if the numbers remain high, potentially by Sunday we could have the five-day average higher than what we would want to see and would need to implement a Safer at Home order," he said. "It wouldn't be today or anytime tomorrow or the day after. We would need five days of an average in order to make that decision."
On Wednesday, county Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer said a safer-at-home order could again be issued if the five-day average of COVID-19 cases exceeds 4,500 or if hospitalizations exceed 2,000 per day. That order would remain in effect for at least three weeks.
A stay-at-home order, Davis said, would allow only essential workers to leave their homes, as well as people access essential services.
Shortly after Davis's virtual press conference, Gov. Gavin Newsom ordered a curfew for all California counties in the purple tier. The curfew will affect 41 of the state's 58 counties, including L.A. County.
The curfew, which the state is calling a "limited Stay at Home Order," will be in effect from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. starting Saturday. That would seem to supersede any order that is enacted locally.
The local curfew requires non-essential businesses to limit indoor capacity to 25% while outdoor capacity is capped at 50%.
Advance appointments are required for personal care services.
City News Service contributed to this report.