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Spike in cases continue; LA beaches closed for holiday

by Steven Felschundneff | steven@claremont-courier.com

The coronavirus outbreak in Claremont continues to increase, mirroring a statewide trend over the past few weeks as businesses reopen and people go back to work or return to in-person social activities.

On Monday Los Angeles County Public Health reported that Claremont has 103 confirmed cases, which is more than double the 45 cases recorded on June 1. The institutional outbreak at Country Villa Claremont Healthcare Center has stabilized. Nnfortunately, one more person there has died, bringing the total to three, which is the same number of deaths reported for the city of Claremont.

According to Monday’s report, LA County reached two troubling milestones—the most cases in a single day at 2,903 and the first day of total cases exceeding 100,000 at 100,772.

During a news conference on Monday, Los Angeles County Director of Public Health Barbara Ferrer was blunt in her message: the persistent increase in cases is not a result of more testing but a sign that community spread is once again on the rise. Perhaps more troubling is the increase in both hospitalizations and in positivity rates among people getting tested.

“There are 1,717 people currently hospitalized, higher than the 1,350 to 1,450 daily hospitalizations seen in recent weeks,” the report said. Furthermore, the seven-day average of the positivity rate has reached 8.4 percent from a low of 4.6 percent in early May.

“Yesterday Governor Gavin Newsom closed bars in LA County. He did this because of the increase in community spread,” Ms. Ferrer said. “And while it is so disappointing to take a step backward in our recovery journey, it’s critical that we work together to protect the health of our residents and capacity of our healthcare system.”

Early in the pandemic positivity rates were as high as 14 percent, largely because only people with symptoms or those most at risk of dying were able to get tested. That rate came down considerably as testing became more widely available, therefore, the recent trend upward is a clear sign that the virus is once again infecting more Angelinos.

Reasons for the increases include: a 14 percent decrease in the number of people staying at home except for essential activities; a 36 percent increase in the number of people who have had close contact with a person outside of their immediate household; a 40 percent increase in cases among 18- to 40-year-olds; and an estimated 500,000 people visiting a nightclub or bar on June 20, the first weekend of reopening.

Public health officials now say that when venturing into public, people have a 1 in 140 chance of coming into contact with an infected person, an increase from 1 in 400 in just one week. With nearly 3,000 cases in a single day and the Fourth of July holiday just five days away, this weekend is a critical time for controlling the virus.

Late Monday afternoon the COVID-19 Emergency Operations Center announced that Los Angeles County beaches would be closed this coming weekend.

“Los Angeles County beaches and beach facilities will be closed to the public for the Fourth of July holiday weekend in an effort to prevent gatherings and crowds that may spread COVID-19,” the statement read.

Ms. Ferrer pleaded with residents to take the necessary steps to keep themselves and the community safe, by wearing a cloth face covering, practicing social distancing and staying at home except for essential tasks.

She also admonished the many businesses in the county that have not followed the strict reopening protocols, thereby putting not only employees and their customers at risk, but also jeopardizing their ability to remain open.

“This is temporary this isn’t forever, this isn’t even for another year. This is a temporary set of steps we are asking everyone to take because we have seen these dramatic increases and we need to get this back under control so that we can remain on a recovery journey,” Ms. Ferrer said.

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