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White House concerned with coronavirus spread in LA area, asks CDC to investigate

Alex Wigglesworth, Luke Money, Noah Bierman and Hannah Fry, Los Angeles Times on

Published in News & Features

LOS ANGELES -- While some parts of the country are seeing major progress in fighting the coronavirus, Dr. Deborah Birx, the White House's coronavirus response coordinator, on Friday singled out Los Angeles as one of three regions where persistent spread remains a significant concern.

Speaking with reporters at the White House, Birx gave a mostly upbeat assessment of the nation's progress but said the Los Angeles metropolitan area, which includes Orange County, is continuing to see problems, along with Washington, D.C., and Chicago.

"Even though Washington has remained closed, L.A. has remained closed, Chicago has remained closed, we still see these ongoing cases," she said.

Brix asked the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to work with those areas "to really understand where are these new cases coming from, and what do we need to do to prevent them in the future."

Los Angeles County is the epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak in California, accounting for about 56% of the state's total deaths and almost half of nearly 90,000 confirmed infections. The county's death toll rose Thursday to 2,021, with more than 42,000 confirmed cases.

"This is a very sad milestone for us," county Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer said Thursday after the deaths exceeded 2,000.

 

Los Angeles County Supervisor Hilda Solis said she hoped officials could ease stay-at-home restrictions soon but urged caution.

"I wish that we could speed things up," she said. "The virus is still out there waiting for us to let our guard down."

Despite the average daily death toll, which has remained at a stubborn plateau for weeks, there were new signs that even Los Angeles is beginning to turn the corner.

The coronavirus transmission rate in the nation's most populous county is now in its best position since the magnitude of the outbreak became clear in March.

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