Potentially moving the region closer to renewed stay-at-home orders, Los Angeles County reported a single-day record number of coronavirus cases Tuesday, while the volume of people hospitalized due to the virus reached its highest point of the pandemic.
The county Department of Public Health announced another 4,244 cases of the coronavirus, raising the cumulative total from the start of the pandemic to 140,307.
Health officials in Long Beach on Tuesday afternoon announced another 233 cases, while Pasadena added 36, raising the countywide total to 140,576.
The county also reported 73 additional deaths, although two of those fatalities were actually announced Monday by Long Beach. Long Beach on Tuesday announced another two deaths, while Pasadena announced one. As of Tuesday afternoon, the county's death toll from the pandemic stood at 3,897.
More concerning is the continuing rise in hospitalizations, with the number climbing to 2,103.
The hospitalization number is the highest total to date of the pandemic, while the number of deaths reported Tuesday represents one of the highest daily increases to date, according to the county. Health officials noted that the high number of fatalities may be the result of a reporting lag from the weekend. The county reported only 13 deaths on Monday.
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The numbers continued a disturbing upward trend in key metrics monitored by health officials as they track the spread of the virus. They also continued a shift in the virus' demographics, with 59% of the newly reported cases involving people under age 41. According to the Department of Public health, the median age of the new patients was just 35.
County health officials and Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti have warned that continued worsening of the pandemic could lead to further rollbacks in business reopenings, and potentially a return to strict orders requiring people to remain at home at virtually all times.
Garcetti said Monday during his COVID-19 update that the city is "on the border" of raising its COVID-19 emergency status from "orange" to "red," which would mean people could only leave their homes for essential goods and travel to work.
Earlier Monday, Gov. Gavin Newsom renewed business restrictions in 30 California counties, including Los Angeles. His order again forced the closure of indoor gyms, hair salons, nail salons, places of worship, massage businesses and tattoo parlors. Newsom also ordered a statewide closure of all bars and forced restaurants throughout California to cease indoor service.
Los Angeles County issued an amended local health order Monday to comply with Newsom's directive.
"I know this step back in our recovery journey is disheartening, but we must do everything in our power to stop the virus from spreading, from making the people we love sick and from causing untimely deaths,'' county public health director Barbara Ferrer said Monday. ``These steps are taken in hopes that we get back to slowing the spread. All of our actions and behaviors now help determine what our lives, our communities and our economy will be like in the months ahead.''
Ferrer said the pace of key metrics -- including increases in COVID-19 infections, hospitalizations and positivity rates -- "is pointing to an alarming trend."
"Our data shows us that every day, thousands of people in our communities are being infected with COVID-19 and our friends, families and neighbors are being hospitalized at a much higher rate," she said. "While our death rate has remained relatively stable, we anticipate that unfortunately with the rise in hospitalizations we will soon see corresponding increases in the number of people who pass away."
The county's overall positivity rate -- the percentage of people tested who turn out to be positive for the virus -- is still at about 9%, but the percentage has been on the rise in recent weeks, reaching a seven-day average of about 11% just last week. As of Sunday, the seven-day average was about 10%.