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1,343 New Coronavirus Cases, 13 More Deaths Confirmed, as LA County Eyes Move Out of Purple Tier

Los Angeles County reported 1,343 new cases of COVID-19 and 13 more deaths Saturday, bringing the county’s totals to 259,817 cases and 6,330 fatalities.

The number of people hospitalized with the virus dropped from 739 Friday to 732, with 31% of those people in intensive care units.

Daily case rates have risen over the past four days, and while that likely reflects the re-opening of testing sites and increases in the number of people tested, Los Angeles County Department of Public Health officials said it could also suggest increased transmission over the Labor Day holiday. They said the department would be following case numbers carefully over the upcoming week.

“We are making tremendous efforts in the county to reduce community spread of COVID-19 so that we can continue to open additional sectors with as much safety as possible,” Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer said. “The recent increases in the number of new cases is of concern because it may reflect increased exposures associated with Labor Day activities. We are reminded that we need to carefully choose how to celebrate our holidays since our actions influence our recovery journey. Increases in cases in the past have resulted in more hospitalizations and more deaths. Please do everything you can to plan your holiday activities to avoid transmission of COVID-19 by following the public health distancing and infectious control directives. We still need to lower the number of new cases so that all students can get back to school and more business sectors can re-open.”

Testing results were available for 2,529,785 individuals, with 10% of all people testing positive.

Health officials on Thursday issued another call for residents to be immunized against the flu, noting that thousands of people nationally are hospitalized every year due to influenza, and with the coronavirus pandemic continuing, hospitals could easily become overwhelmed.

Ferrer urged residents to continue taking all basic precautions to avoid becoming ill.

“As many residents are spending more time indoors to avoid the poor air quality, I remind everyone to take precautions to minimize COVID-19 spread if you are indoors with others,” she said in a statement. “Please remember to distance from other people, wear a face covering and wash your hands frequently and to clean high-touch surfaces often if around others who are at high risk. It is important to continue to isolate from others if you are sick and to get tested for COVID-19 if you were exposed or have symptoms.”

She said earlier this week that downward trends in the county’s coronavirus case and testing-positivity rates could allow the county to move into the next tier of the state’s economic-reopening matrix by sometime in October.

The county is in the most restrictive, or “purple,” level of the state’s four-tier virus-tracking roadmap. L.A. county already has a low enough seven-day average testing positivity rate — around 3.2% — to move to a less-restrictive tier, but average new case numbers are still too high, currently averaging 8.1 cases per 100,000 residents. The state threshold for advancing to the “red” tier is seven cases per 100,000.

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