One day after Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti warned that “We’d likely return to a mandated stay-at-home order” in one or two weeks if coronavirus conditions in the region get worse, the head of Los Angeles County’s Health Department agreed, with some qualifications.
“Nothing can be off the table in the pandemic,” said county public health director, Barbara Ferrer. “There’s too much unknown and there’s lots of things that could happen that could put us in much worse shape, including, you know, some serious mutations of this virus that make it more dangerous. So I would never be the person that’s going to say, ‘Absolutely. Out of the question. We can never go back to Safer At Home.’
“There’s just too much unknown here,” continued Ferrer. “There’s a virus. There’s a pandemic. A lot of what happens here also depends on what’s happening in other places around the country, so we shouldn’t really take any tools off the table,” she said. Ferrer stressed that she does not want to see such restrictions imposed again.
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“What I would like to say is, I hope we never have to go back to Safer At Home. I hope we do our job well…all of us do our job well and we get back to what we know we can do, which is slow that curve.”
On Wednesday, Garcetti had sounded a similar note. Amid the largest spike in hospitalizations since the pandemic began Garcetti warned, “These [next two] weeks are absolutely critical. Critical to whether our schools open, whether our economy thrives.”
He reminded residents that “All options remain on the table. We will do whatever we need to.”
On Thursday, L.A. county confirmed 50 new deaths related to COVID-19. That number was much higher than the 7-day rolling average of 24 deaths, according to the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health.
COVID-19 Daily Update:
July 9, 2020
Cases: 1,777 (124,738 total)
Deaths: 50 (3,689 total)
Current Hospitalizations: 2,037 pic.twitter.com/pNi6xLD15E
— LA Public Health (@lapublichealth) July 9, 2020
California Governor Gavin Newsom on Thursday announced a record number of daily deaths in the state from COVID-19, with 149 lives lost over the past 24 hours. That’s up about 23 percent from the previous high of 115 deaths. That grim mark was reported on April 22, during the previous peak of the virus in California. The total number of lives lost in the state due to coronavirus is now 6,711.
Most concerning to Ferrer was the record number of people reported hospitalized due to the virus. On Thursday 2,037 people were hospitalized due to coronavirus. The only other peak that came even close was the previous high of just under 2,000 deaths in late April. Shortly after that, in June, the average number of COVID patients hospitalized had dropped to about 1,400.
“Our cases are rising, the rate of infection is increasing and the number of hospitalizations are up,” Ferrer said on Thursday. “These numbers are reminiscent of what we saw months ago at what we thought was going to be the height of the pandemic here in L.A. County.”
She reiterated concerns expressed Wednesday that the increasing numbers of cases and hospitalizations would lead to increasing numbers of deaths in the coming weeks.
Ferrer noted on Wednesday that while 93 percent of those known to have died in L.A. County from the virus had underlying health conditions, the 7 percent of people who died and had no existing health issues should serve as a warning.
“When the numbers get as big as they are today, that 7 percent represents dozens and dozens of people who may have thought that they were at no risk for having serious illness and even dying from COVID-19, but unfortunately this virus can affect many, many different people.”