L.A. County nears new milestones in coronavirus cases, deaths

LOS ANGELES, CA - OCTOBER 24: During the global coronavirus pandemic Jodi Hughes, middle, holds onto her children Joseph Hughes, 3, left, and Jadynne Hughes, 5, right, of San Pedro along with about 40 parents and their children hold a "Open Our Schools Rally" on the steps of Los Angeles City Hall on Saturday, Oct. 24, 2020 in Los Angeles, CA. Most districts and states have either started in person/hybrid school or have clear plans. LAUSD has NO plan and NO idea on how to bring the kids back to school. LA Parents have had enough and are outraged at how UTLA/LAUSD have been holding our kids political hostages peddling their agendas. (Francine Orr / Los Angeles Times)
San Pedro resident Jodi Hughes and her children, ages 3 and 5, joined other families for an Open Our Schools rally at L.A. City Hall on Saturday. (Francine Orr / Los Angeles Times)

Fueled by a backlog of previously unreported tests, Los Angeles County on Monday was poised to surpass two unwelcomed milestones in its fight against the novel coronavirus: 300,000 cases and 7,000 deaths.

The magnitude of those figures, officials say, reinforce the importance of continued caution in the face of a pandemic that is surging to new heights in many parts of the country.

“As we move closer to the tragic milestone of 7,000 deaths in L.A. County and are seeing an increase in cases, please remember the choices we each make every day have a significant impact on whether we slow the spread of the virus,” county public health director Barbara Ferrer said in a statement. “The virus doesn’t take a break for parties or celebrations. The best way to honor our sports teams and each other is to always wear a face covering, keep our distance from those not in our household, avoid crowds and only gather with two other households when outside.”

L.A. County’s overall case count includes 830 additional infections that were confirmed Sunday.

While case numbers are typically lower on the weekends because some laboratories that process tests wait until Monday to submit results, the relatively low total Sunday represented a welcome reprieve from three consecutive days of high positive case counts, which officials said were fueled by a backlog stemming from technical data reporting issues.

Despite the increase in cases, the county’s daily positivity rate, the proportion of those tested who are found to be infected, remained steady at 3.4% or 3.5% over the past week, health officials said.

There has been an uptick recently in the local number of hospitalized COVID-19 patients — from 722 on Oct. 19 to 785 on Sunday — though that figure remains substantially below the peak seen during the summer’s coronavirus surge.

California as a whole surpassed 900,000 confirmed cases of the virus over the weekend. More than 17,300 people have died statewide, according to The Times’ coronavirus tracker.

While the state’s overall number of cases and deaths continues to be among the highest in the nation — not surprising, given it is by far the most populous state — California has, to this point, seemingly avoided the surge currently striking many other parts of the country.

The U.S. on Sunday reached a new high for the average number of new cases over a seven-day period with 68,954, according to the COVID Tracking Project. The unwelcomed tally surpassed a s previous peak of cases that came in July.

About half of states in the U.S. have seen their highest daily infection numbers at some point in October, and the country as a whole came very close to back-to-back record daily infection rates on Friday and Saturday.

As of Monday morning, there had been more

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