New coronavirus spike in L.A. County brings new alarms

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There were new alarming signs that COVID-19 was spreading again in Los Angeles County, with officials announcing the highest one-day increase in cases not connected to a reporting backlog since August.

The county reported 1,745 new cases Thursday as well as 19 new deaths. It’s the latest evidence that after declining for several months, the novel coronavirus may be on the rise again in L.A. County and other parts of Southern California.

If the region does see another spike like the one it experienced during the summer, it would threaten efforts to reopen schools and businesses. Already, Southern California has fallen behind the Bay Area when it comes to slowing the infection rate, allowing places such as San Francisco and Silicon Valley to reopen more quickly.

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“The high numbers of daily cases are very concerning because, as we have seen in the past, increases in cases lead to increases in hospitalizations and deaths,” L.A. County Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer said in a statement. “These increases impede our ability to move forward with reopening additional sectors and getting more children back to school.”

Officials have expressed concerns that COVID-19 is spreading from social gatherings tied to championship victories by the Lakers and Dodgers. There are also concerns about more potential infections with Halloween and Thanksgiving celebrations.

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti urged anyone who gathered to celebrate the teams’ championships to get tested for COVID-19.

“For those who went to the streets to celebrate … and were around strangers in an unsafe environment, please get tested and stay isolated for 14 days per the county’s Department of Public Health advice,” he said Wednesday.

Thousands took to the streets Tuesday after the Dodgers won the World Series — despite pleadings from health officials to stay home.

Officials had urged Dodgers fans to avoid crowds and practice social distancing while cheering on the hometown team and when celebrating their win. L.A. County health authorities have blamed gatherings related to the Lakers’ and Dodgers’ championship season for spreading the virus and preventing the county from reopening more quickly.

In four Southern California counties — Imperial, San Bernardino, Riverside and Los Angeles — the average number of new daily infections per 100,000 residents over the past week ranked among the top five statewide, according to The Times’ coronavirus tracker.

Compared to the previous week, new cases in Los Angeles County jumped from an average of 63.4 for every 100,000 residents to 111.3. The average case rate climbed from 77.5 to 140.3 in San Bernardino and from 94.4 to 111.5 in Riverside, while in Imperial new cases soared from an average of 141.5 per 100,000 residents to 225.8.

“We are seeing increased disease in the community,” Riverside County Public Health Director Kim Saruwatari told the county Board of Supervisors this week. “This is consistent with what other areas of the country are seeing, and we are fortunate that we’re not seeing it to the level that many others are.”

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