County continues path to health order rollback; cannot move to new tier until two weeks of sustained numbers

Photo courtesy of the Centers for Disease Control.
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Los Angeles County officials expressed continued optimism Wednesday regarding the number of COVID-19 diagnoses, but reiterated that the transition to less-restrictive health orders requires the trends to continue for two weeks. 

During a news conference Wednesday, Barbara Ferrer, director of the L.A. County Public Health Department, said the number of cases diagnosed per day was continuing to decrease, as well as the rate of test positivity and hospitalizations, after these numbers peaked in July. 

“When we review the daily deaths from COVID-19, we’re reminded that changes in the number of deaths typically lags behind changes that we see in our cases and hospitalization numbers,” said Ferrer, before highlighting a graph that showed the number of deaths related to COVID-19 was also decreasing since August. “On this chart you can see that the spike in cases we experienced in early July led to an extended increase in deaths from late July through much of August. 

“And again, though we’re very pleased to see that deaths are falling, we remain vigilant, knowing that if cases increased as a result of Labor Day activities, we may again see both more hospitalizations and, unfortunately, an increase in deaths in the coming weeks.”

In late August, Gov. Gavin Newsom announced a COVID-19 tier system for counties, putting counties throughout the state in one of four categories. Each county’s placement was determined by two factors: their daily average new cases per 100,000 residents, and a daily average percent of positive tests.

On Wednesday, the county announced it reached a level of seven cases per 100,000 people, which is adjusted by the state depending on the county’s testing volume, and a seven-day test positivity rate of 2.9%, which qualifies the county to move up to Tier 2, the red tier, of the state’s qualification system, should the positive trends continue for two weeks. 

The county’s testing positivity rate is at a Tier 3, or orange, level. However, the state guidelines indicate that a county is categorized based on its lowest tier level among the two indicators. The county’s daily case rate per 100,000 needed to reach four to seven cases per 100,000 before the county could advance to policies of less restrictive health orders. 

“We qualify now by meeting the metric in Tier 2 for our daily case rate, and for Tier 3 for our positivity rate,” said Ferrer. 

Ferrer added, though, that the advancement in tiers is not guaranteed, and that the county had seen an increase in cases over the past four days. Should the daily number of cases return to a positive trend, officials believe the county can be reclassified to Tier 2 as soon as October.

In the past 24 hours the county reported 31 new deaths related to COVID-19 and 1,265 new cases. This brings the total number of deaths countywide to 6,423 and the total number of cases since the onset of the pandemic to 263,333.

Of those who died in the past day, 10 were over the age of 80, 14 were between the ages of 65-79, six people were between the ages of 50-64 and one person was between the ages of 30-49. Among those who died, 24 had underlying conditions. 

This brings the mortality rate countywide among confirmed cases to 2.4%. As of Wednesday, 779 people remained hospitalized due to the disease. 

SCV numbers

Henry Mayo Newhall Hospital officials reported on Wednesday that, since the onset of the pandemic, the hospital has tested 8,043 people, with 869 positives and 9,409 negatives (some individuals are tested more than once). Twenty-one test results remain pending. 

A total of 10 people remain in the hospital due to complications related to the disease, and 253 patients have been discharged. 

The number of SCV cases, including all area health care providers’ daily figures and those at Pitchess Detention Center, increased by 46 in the past day, bringing the total number of local cases reported to 5,886. 

As of Wednesday, the cases are broken down into region as follows: 

City of Santa Clarita: 3,374

Unincorporated – Acton: 70

Unincorporated – Agua Dulce: 27

Unincorporated – Bouquet Canyon: 8

Unincorporated – Canyon Country: 132

Unincorporated – Castaic: 1,947 (majority of Castaic cases come from Pitchess Detention Center, exact number unavailable)

Unincorporated – Lake Hughes: 4

Unincorporated – Newhall: 7

Unincorporated – Placerita Canyon: 0

Unincorporated – San Francisquito Canyon/Bouquet Canyon: 0

Unincorporated – Sand Canyon: 7

Unincorporated – Saugus: 27

Unincorporated – Saugus/Canyon Country: 2

Unincorporated – Stevenson Ranch: 162

Unincorporated – Val Verde: 76

Unincorporated – Valencia: 43

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