L.A. County reports 2,065 new coronavirus cases, highest total since late July

Los Angeles County reported 2,065 new coronavirus cases on Thursday, Nov. 5, the highest number of positive results in a single day since mid-August that were not the result of a reporting backlog.

The deaths of another 25 people were also reported as a result of complications related to the coronavirus. More than 7,100 people have died so far in L.A. County and more than 315,000 have tested positive since the pandemic began.

The county was now averaging more than 1,400 new cases per day over the past week. Daily new cases have been on a slight uptick since early September. But the steady increase in L.A. County did not represent a surge, according to Dr. Paul Simon speaking for the Department of Public Health on Thursday. More of a gradual uptick, he said.

“It certainly doesn’t compare to the surges being experienced across the country but it nonetheless is a trend we’re watching very closely,” Simon said.

The higher-than-average case count in L.A. County came on a day Thursday that saw the nation surpass for the first time 100,000 new coronavirus cases in a single day.

“That’s a very sad milestone,” Simon said.

The slow increase in new cases for weeks now in L.A. County are beginning to generate more patients to regional hospitals, now more than 800 were admitted across the county. But that number was still far from levels in July when hospitals were tasked with caring for more than 2,200 COVID-19 patients. Even then, hospitals were not completely maxed out.

“It’s important to recognize there is a lag period from when the patient is first diagnosed and they require ICU utilization and even further time before mortality,” said Dr. Thomas Yadegar, a pulmonologist and medical director of the intensive care units at Providence Cedars-Sinai Tarzana Medical Center and West Hills Medical Center in Los Angeles. “It wouldn’t surprise me if in the next few weeks we did notice an increase in hospitalizations and a few weeks later an increase in mortality numbers as well.”

Currently a little more than 20 people are dying from the coronavirus per day in L.A. County, an average number that has been steadily declining since August when daily deaths were between 40 and 45. Part of the decrease in mortality rate is due to more young people testing positive who are less at risk for serious illness as well as medical professionals who have found better ways of treating patients.

Yadegar said he discovered after the first few months of treating COVID patients that putting them on a ventilator as recommended by the medical literature at the time was too early. By keeping patients on oxygen longer, even though it might have been more risky for healthcare works, and only using ventilators as a last resort, Yadegar said his teams were able to improve outcomes.

“We’ve done remarkably well once we figured out that putting patients on a ventilator at that time was the exact wrong thing to do,” Yadegar said.

In another attempt to slow the spread of the virus, public health officials stepped up their messaging Thursday to dissuade people from gathering in groups outside the same household, one of the leading causes of the continued spread of the virus, Simon said.

“For the time being, through Thanksgiving and December holidays and New Years we really are discouraging gatherings outside your household,” Simon said.

At the top of mind for doctors and public health officials now was the colder weather and flu season that could exacerbate the coronavirus and further burden the healthcare system.

“We’re all hoping we’ll have a mild flu season because people are wearing masks and social distancing,” Yadegar said. “But obviously the last thing we want is a horrible flu season in the middle of this pandemic. That would for sure increase the hospital census and overwhelm the healthcare system.”

The county update did not include Thursday’s latest numbers from Pasadena and Long Beach, which operate their own health departments. Pasadena reported 12 new cases, bringing its total to 2,890; the city’s death toll remained at 129. Long Beach posted 39 new cases for a total of 13,550; the city’s death toll remained at 260.

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