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LA County on brink of additional restrictions with more than 4,500 new coronavirus cases

By James Rainey and Alex Wigglesworth, Los Angeles Times on

Published in News & Features

LOS ANGELES — Another round of distressing case numbers has Los Angeles teetering on the brink of further restrictions to slow the spread of the coronavirus — including the likely shutdown of outdoor restaurant dining.

County data released Saturday evening revealed 4,522 new cases; the average daily count over the last four days is 4,442. If the average remains higher than 4,000 on Sunday — which seems all but certain — the outdoor dining restriction is set to be reinstated for the first time since May.

And Los Angeles public health officials have set another threshold if the five-day average reaches 4,500: It will trigger a new stay-at-home order that would generally allow only essential workers and people securing essential services to leave their homes.

Hospitalizations for COVID-19 also continued to climb Saturday, with 1,391 people admitted at facilities around the county, nearly double the average daily number in early October. About a quarter of those COVID-19 patients are in intensive care units.

Los Angeles County Director of Public Health Barbara Ferrer renewed her call for the county's 10 million residents to remain home as much as possible, maintain social distancing and follow other safety protocols.

"We have to change the alarming increases in cases and hospitalizations," Ferrer said in a statement, "and get back to slowing the spread to avoid overwhelming our hospitals and save lives."

 

The county health chief also acknowledged the fatigue people are feeling, as restrictions on businesses and public gatherings stretch into a ninth month.

"Although this pandemic seems like it will never end, I assure you that it will," she said, thanking the public for staying the course.

The latest COVID numbers confirmed another grim trend: Young people are driving the increased community transmission across the sprawling county, and older people are dying at much higher rates.

More than 72% of the new cases reported Saturday were in people under 50, while 91% of the deaths were those older than 50. Of the 34 county residents who died of COVID-19 on Saturday, 15 were over 80, according to the new report.

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