Los Angeles County saw a second consecutive day of fewer COVID-19 deaths, as local health officials confirmed a “flattening of the curve” as residents continue to practice social distancing.
Meanwhile, however, the county’s stay-at-home and business-closure orders were extended to at least May 15. The earlier order was set to expire in nine days. Officials said that while physical-distancing mandates have slowed the spread of coronavirus dramatically, lifting them now could lead to nearly 96% of the local population being infected by August.
Authorities noted, however, that there is no timetable for when the social-distancing rules will be lifted — saying only that the situation will be re-evaluated in the coming weeks.
Dr. Barbara Ferrer, Los Angeles County Public Health director, said during her daily update Friday that 18 people died in the region during the past 24 hours. That’s seven fewer than Thursday, which in turn was four fewer that the day before.
She also said, however, that 475 new cases of coronavirus were reported in the county, 50 more than the previous day.
“Because everyone here is doing their part, because people are heeding the directives, we have seen what we now can confirm what is in fact a flattening of the curve in a way that’s actually saving lives and allowing us to have a chance at making sure that our health care system remains able to serve all who need care,” Ferrer said today. “But because there are so many people who are infected in L.A. County, and because there’s still so much spread, we have to continue to keep ourselves physically apart from each other during the next few weeks.”
Also today, Dr. Christina Ghaly, director of the Los Angeles County Department of Health Services, urged people to keep up their self-isolating efforts.
“If you were to reduce physical distancing to the pre-health officer-order levels,” she said, “virtually all individuals in Los Angeles County — 95.6% per the
model — would be infected by the pandemic by August 1, 2020. That number is starkly reduced, down to about 30%, if we maintain the current levels of physical distancing.”
She added: “If we’re able to increase the level of physical distancing — people
are able to remain at home more than they are today — then we could reduce
the number of infected individuals even further, down to an estimated 5.5%.”
L.A. County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas issued a statement today about the extended social-distancing mandate:
“With this modeling data, the experts at the Department of Health Services have provided an informed perspective on what the weeks ahead could look like. The results are promising – but only if we don’t get complacent.
“The analysis shows our hospitals can handle the anticipated surge of patients without running out of equipment like ventilators, but — and this is crucial — it’s up to all of us to keep it that way.
“We can save lives by staying at home and avoiding infection. Some of the lives we save may be those of our frontline and essential workers – heroes. Let’s stay home for them, so they can continue to go to work for all of us.
“The modeling data is a cautionary tale, but the outcome is up to us. LA County is in a position to preempt hospital surges and deaths — but only with our help. I encourage every Angeleno to continue to follow the extended public health order and stay at home.
“As we move forward, we must continue to be guided by real-time comprehensive data, including demographic and socioeconomic data. This is imperative for us to remain effective in getting a handle on this pandemic and its unprecedented impact on our community.”
City News Service contributed to this report.
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