LOS ANGELES - Los Angeles County Sunday reported 2,238 new cases of COVID-19 and two additional deaths Sunday, bringing the county’s totals to 322,207 cases and 7,172 fatalities.
Of the 851 people hospitalized within the county with the coronavirus, 29 percent of those patients were said to be in intensive-care units. Health officials said the lower number of deaths reflects reporting delays over the weekend.
Sunday marked a fifth consecutive day the county reported more than 1,800 confirmed cases of coronavirus. A day earlier, City News Service says health officials reported 2,418 new cases — which marked the highest one day total since mid-August.
Gatherings among residents were said to the primary driver of a recent surge in cases, as well as large political gatherings.
“We have experienced increasing cases in L.A. County before and have demonstrated that we can get back to slowing the spread of COVID-19 and saving lives when we are united in our efforts to minimize infections,” Public Health Director, Barbara Ferrer, said Friday. “With so many people infected each day, there are a lot more opportunities for virus transmission if we continue to intermingle with lots of people outside our households.
"We are strongly recommending that everyone limit their interactions with people outside their household as much as possible as we work together to lower the number of new cases."
On Thursday, Dr. Paul Simon, chief science officer for the county Department of Public Health, said thus far the county's surge in cases hasn't equaled the spiking numbers being seen in some parts of the country, but the increases are still concerning.
He said the county has no immediate plans to implement any sweeping shutdowns or other restrictions, but health officials will be watching the numbers closely.
"I think if we continue to see very slow, gradual increases, we may be willing to live with it," Simon said. "We're not going to do anything drastic at this point. We are, though, trying to intensify our messaging around discouraging gatherings. ... We think that's probably an important contributor. "We understand people are getting very tired of this COVID world, and we hope that in the new year there will be some new strategies that will help us control spread," he said.
"But for the time being, definitely through the Thanksgiving and December holiday season, New Year, we really are discouraging the gatherings outside your household."
The Department of Public Health on Friday also urged people who are infected with the virus to take part in a contact-tracing interview to help contain the spread of the illness and prevent more outbreaks. As of Friday, more than 157,000 people who tested positive for the illness have taken part in the interviews, leading to subsequent interviews of more than 71,000 people considered close contacts of those who were infected.