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Key virus metrics continue to fall

by Steven Felschundneff | steven@claremont-courier.com

Community spread of the coronavirus across all areas of the county has been in a sustained but slow decline over the past month, according to Barbara Ferrer, director of the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health.

Additionally, the county has satisfied five out of six state mandated COVID-19 benchmarks that must be met before schools and many businesses can reopen. The county will not be removed from the state’s monitoring list until it can cut the two-week average of new cases from the current 295 infections per 100,000 residents to 100 cases or fewer.

As of Tuesday, 40 of the 58 counties in the state were on the monitoring list, according to data provided by the California Department of Public Health.

“I want to begin by thanking everyone who has been doing their part to slow the spread of COVID-19. We do continue to be cautiously optimistic that all the sacrifices and hard work that we have seen across our county is working, and we are in fact back to slowing the spread,” Ms. Ferrer said.

Ms. Ferrer identified daily hospitalizations, case rate and positivity rate as the three key indicators that the virus spread is slowing.

Over the past month the three day average of hospitalizations has decreased steadily from 2,219 people hospitalized on July 17 to 1,388 on August 14, a 37 percent change. She said the declining hospitalization rate is a particularly good sign because that data reflects how many people are currently seriously ill.

Although cases are down, the data is not complete due to the backlog created several weeks ago by the state of California’s electronic laboratory reporting system. However, the trajectory is still moving lower—in mid July average daily new cases were around 3,200 but by mid august that had fallen to about 2,000. Over that same period of time the positivity rate has fallen from over 10 percent to just above six percent. In spite of the uncertainty created by the state’s ELR glitch the data is spread over many days, even weeks, so public health officials anticipate that this decrease will hold.

“I hope this data reminds all of us of the power our actions have in preventing serious illness and saving lives, and again I want to just say how grateful I am for everyone who’s doing their part to make sure we slow the spread of COVID-19,” Ms. Ferrer said. “We do still have a way to go to reduce community transmission enough to be able to have confidence that the timing would be right to reopen our schools and get more people back to work.”

In Claremont there has been a sharp increase in the number of reported cases in the city’s unincorporated areas, from four to 17 in a matter of days. There was no further information about the sudden change and, unfortunately, the county only provides details on outbreaks when they happen in an institutional setting. Claremont’s cumulative cases now stand at 326 and, sadly the city now has eight deaths.

There are no new institutional outbreaks within Claremont and the existing ones appear to have stabilized.

During a news conference on Monday Ms. Ferrer did reiterate how dangerous it is for people to gather socially with others who are not part of the immediate family one lives with. She cited reports of gatherings for parties, weddings and other celebrations that have resulted in participants unknowingly infecting other attendees.

“We have many examples here in our county and across the country of gatherings, parties and services that did result in outbreaks of COVID-19,” Ms. Ferrer said. “We’ve seen outbreaks from gatherings on college campuses, fraternity and sorority houses, restaurants, from our protests, churches and at people’s homes all across the country, and some of these gatherings have resulted in tragic loss of life and serious illness.”

Ms. Ferrer closed on a positive note, thanking all of the people across the county who have stayed home, worn a face covering and practiced social distancing.

“We know from the past that when we work together we slow the spread and it seems we have done just that again,” she said.

 

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