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Coronavirus cases top 800,000 in California, highest in the nation

By Dakota Smith, Colleen Shalby, Alex Wigglesworth and Stephanie Lai, Los Angeles Times on

Published in News & Features

L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti said the next few weeks will be crucial if the city wants to see more reopenings.

"The bottom line: This virus is still here, and it's still very dangerous," said Garcetti, noting the uptick in hospitalizations, cases and the transmission rate in L.A. County.

If the positivity rate and the number of COVID-19 cases remain low, the county will be able to enter a new tier on the state's color-coded reopening blueprint, Garcetti said, which means fewer restrictions.

Los Angeles County is in Tier 1, which means schools and many businesses are closed. To progress through the tiered system, a county must meet certain thresholds for two consecutive weeks.

The mayor urged Angelenos to try to keep numbers low so the county can move into the new tier in early October.

In recent weeks, L.A. County officials have reported a decline in the number of COVID-19 infections, hospitalizations and deaths. The county's daily case count is currently seven cases per 100,000, and the seven-day average positivity rate is 3% - a notable drop from a reported 8% in July.


But over the last week, the number of cases has increased slightly, and the projected transmission rate has crept past 1% to 1.02%. It's possible those numbers are early indicators that there will be a spike in infections related to Labor Day weekend activity, but officials are not sure yet.

And as the state numbers continue to climb, there are still concerns California could be reopening too quickly.

Santa Clara County's health officer, Sara Cody, told supervisors this week that care is still needed.

"Remember, we're still at significant amounts of COVID spread, and we don't want to make the mistake that we collectively made earlier where we went a little bit too fast - and then spent the summer with quite a bit of COVID transmission," Cody said.

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