L.A. County’s coronavirus cases decline, but fear of surge lingers

Los Angeles County continues to report a decrease in the number of coronavirus cases, but officials remain concerned that Super Bowl gatherings could reverse the course.

On Saturday, 4,860 new confirmed cases and 193 related deaths were reported, bringing the total number of fatalities countywide to 17,995, according to the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health. The death toll has continued to show a steady decline since mid-January when the county was averaging 241 deaths per day.

Still, those numbers remain much higher than pre-surge levels, and officials say the community should take all measures to not expose friends, family and co-workers to the disease.

“We send our deepest sympathies to every person experiencing the sorrow of losing a loved one to COVID-19,” said Barbara Ferrer, the county’s director of public health. “Despite seeing some decreases, we continue to experience widespread community transmission in our county.”

Ferrer warned that the riskiest thing people can do Sunday is to host or attend Super Bowl Sunday parties, potentially turning the game into a super-spreader event. She urged residents to connect virtually or watch the game at home with those in their immediate household.

The county has put a series of restrictions in place: Private gatherings are limited to 15 people, from no more than three households, and must be held outside, with participants wearing masks and maintaining physical distancing. Restaurants that were allowed to reopen their outdoor areas last week will be prohibited from having televisions available for patrons to watch the game.

Los Angeles has seen significant relief from the virus in recent weeks. The number of new cases per day went from about 15,100 over a seven-day period down to an average of about 5,600 cases.

Still, hospital intensive care units remain strained and the death toll continues to be high. Statewide, more than 43,000 people have died from the disease since the pandemic began.

Officials have also confirmed additional cases of multi-system inflammatory syndrome, or MIS-C, a rare and potentially deadly virus illness that infects children exposed to the coronavirus. Symptoms include fever that does not go away and inflamed body parts, including the heart, lungs, kidneys, brain, skin, eyes, or gastrointestinal organs.

Health officials on Saturday confirmed nine additional cases of MIS-C, bringing the total number of cases in L.A. County to 75 children, including one death. Latino children account for 76% of all reported MIS-C cases.

COVID-19 vaccine supply remains limited. For information about vaccines in L.A. County and to find out when your turn is coming up, visit: www.VaccinateLACounty.com.

Meanwhile, Orange County health officials on Saturday reported 739 new cases of COVID-19 and 33 additional deaths, bringing the county’s totals to 237,077 cases and 3,312 fatalities.

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