‘Highly Likely’ That COVID-19 Spike Linked to Protests, LA Health Official Says

By Zachary Stieber
Zachary Stieber
Zachary Stieber
Zachary Stieber is a senior reporter for The Epoch Times based in Maryland. He covers U.S. and world news.
June 23, 2020Updated: June 23, 2020

The spike in new CCP virus cases in Los Angeles County is probably linked to massive protests that have taken place in recent weeks, a top health official said.

“What we haven’t really been able to do, because we have such a high volume of cases coming in, is really pinpoint whether or not the exact source of an exposure was a protest,” Barbara Ferrer, the director of the county’s Department of Public Health, said at a press briefing Monday.

“I do want to say that it’s highly likely, given the increased numbers that we’re seeing, that some of this is, in fact, people who may have been in a crowded situation at one of the protests where there was spread,” she added.

Gatherings of nearly any size were prohibited in Los Angeles and in many parts of the country starting in March as authorities imposed harsh measures to try to slow the spread of the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus, which causes a disease called COVID-19.

But the death of George Floyd, a black man, in police custody in Minneapolis on Memorial Day sparked nationwide protests and riots and authorities in many cities stopped enforcing social distancing mandates.

Epoch Times Photo
Los Angeles County Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer, left, speaks as Mayor Eric Garcetti looks on at a press conference in Los Angeles, Calif., on March 4, 2020. (Robyn Beck/AFP via Getty Images)

Los Angeles County health officials reported 2,571 new virus cases on Monday, the third day in the past week that officials recorded over 2,000 new cases during a single day.

“While some of this may be due to lags in reporting, the numbers do tell us that we’re seeing an increase in community transmission,” Ferrer said.

She urged people to stay home unless they need to undertake a so-called essential activity, such as obtaining food or medicine.

In a message aimed at people who are ignoring those recommendations, the health official said: “If you’ve been out of your home and in crowded spaces, please stay away from anyone in your life who is older or has underlying health conditions as much as possible.”

A number of areas in the United States are recording an increase in CCP virus cases in recent weeks. In many of those areas, the number of tests being done has also climbed. Of the over 960,000 tests done in Los Angeles County, 8 percent of people have tested positive.

Epoch Times Photo
Protesters gather on Hollywood Boulevard in Los Angeles, Calif. on June 14, 2020. (Mario Tama/Getty Images)

Like most of those areas, the number of COVID-19 patients in Los Angeles requiring hospital care has remained steady even as the number of cases rise. Hospitalizations from COVID-19 are on the rise in the state of California, Gov. Gavin Newsom said Monday.

As of Monday, 1,453 Los Angeles County residents are hospitalized. Of those, 28 percent are in intensive care units and 19 percent are on ventilators.

Apart from people likely being exposed to the virus at protests, it’s highly likely exposures are happening in workplaces and other sites where people are coming into close contact with each other, Ferrer told reporters.

The county has over 560 active institutional investigations ongoing to try to pinpoint the source of exposures.

County officials say 2,929 people have died with COVID-19, primarily those who are older or have underlying health conditions.