LA's Coronavirus Death Toll Is High, But The Spread Is Slowing

LOS ANGELES, CA — Los Angeles County reported another 48 coronavirus deaths Saturday, and though the daily death toll remains high, new cases and hospitalizations continue to fall, giving hope that the fewer people die will in the coming days.

Los Angeles County reported another 1,644 cases of COVID-19 Saturday, bringing the county's totals to 230,662 cases and 5,537 fatalities. With the coronavirus, hope has proven to be somewhat precarious. The last time the region slowed the outbreak and loosened restrictions, a surge in new cases followed. Having learned from the July surge, county health officials are sounding the alarm about the upcoming Labor Day weekend. Those who want to see schools and businesses reopened should resist the urge to attend holiday weekend get togethers, warned county health officials.

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 and Patch Staffer Paige Austin contributed to this report.

This article originally appeared on the Los Angeles Patch