Worksite coronavirus outbreaks ’cause for concern’ in L.A. County
As Los Angeles County grew more weary of the coronavirus pandemic, the rate of transmission remained stubbornly too high and the county’s top public health official on Wednesday, Oct. 14, said an increasing number of worksite outbreaks were becoming more worrisome.
The number of worksite outbreaks over a two-week period from late September to early October increased to 39 — nearly double the number of outbreaks at worksites for the two weeks prior — according to Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer.
“This is a cause for concern and well be continuing to be monitoring what’s happening at work places,” Ferrer said.
The county reported an additional 1,349 new cases and 22 associated deaths on Wednesday. One of the deaths occurred among an individual 18 to 29 without underlying health conditions, Ferrer said.
A total of 6,812 people have died from complications related to COVID-19 in L.A. County and 285,016 have tested positive.
Wednesday’s total did not include updated tallies from Long Beach and Pasadena, which operate their own health departments. Pasadena separately reported five new cases, up to 2,660 total, and no new deaths. A total of 129 people in the city have died.
Another Long Beach resident has died, bringing the city’s death toll to 254. The city also reported 46 new coronavirus cases, for a total of 12,517.
The numbers Wednesday reflected a seven-day average rate of daily cases slightly above 1,000 in total, far too high for the county to meet the state’s requirements to allow more businesses to reopen at about 700 per day in a county the size of Los Angeles.
The number of people hospitalized for the coronavirus in L.A. County rose to 720 people, far below peaks in July though somewhat dampening to hopes that the virus was slowing down on its deadly path.
The rate of transmission was increasing just slightly more than a few weeks ago, according to Health Services Director Dr. Christina Ghaly. The R-naught of the virus in L.A. County was now at 1.05, Ghaly said, meaning the average number of new cases of COVID-19 that results from each current case was slightly more than one.
“With this slight increase in transmission conveys that the COVID-19 pandemic is not over. The virus is still out there and spreading in our communities,” Ghaly said. “We cannot let our guard down. This simply is not over.”
While officials praised businesses for largely complying with the health-officer orders, 131 citations were issued from Aug. 29 to Oct. 6. Gyms and fitness centers accounted for 51 citations, places of worship totaled 36 and restaurants received nine.
To date, 837 schools have opted to offer in-person learning for students with special needs, 72% of them public schools. In total more than 17,000 students and 11,000 staff members at public, private and charter schools have returned to the classroom. Ferrer said the department would use their experiences to guide further reopening.
So far, 62 schools have applied for waivers to reopen pre-kindergarten to 2nd grade classes.
Ferrer also commented on the state’s updated guidance when it came to private gatherings, which now allow for up to three households to gather for up to two hours. Ferrer said it was intended for special events and not for mixing with many different households. If possible, she suggested sticking to the same families to avoid mixing with too many people.
“The issue for us is to try to do some activities that are very hard for people not to do for months and months and months and do it as safely as possible,” Ferrer said. “We are threading the needle here but I think it’s important for us to try to do some of the activities that people are desperate to do.”