Some 96 percent of Los Angeles County residents could get infected with the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus, commonly known as the novel coronavirus, if social distancing measures are lifted, county officials said.
Officials on Friday announced an extension for a lockdown order through May 15, citing the number of residents infected and the spread of the virus, which causes the COVID-19 disease. The order was previously scheduled to end on April 19.
“I know that many of you were hoping we would get to the end of April and we’d be able to lift many of these restrictions,” Dr. Barbara Ferrer, the county’s public health director, said at a press conference. “I am as sad as you are to note that this is not the time to lift.”
A countywide order issued last month, similar to the statewide order, forced businesses designated as non-essential to close, shut off legal access to beaches and other areas, and required people to largely stay at home.
The strict measures have flattened the curve, Ferrer said, referring to the projected rise, peak, and fall of confirmed cases and other metrics linked to the pandemic. But “because there are so many people that are infected in Los Angeles County and because there is so much spread, we have to continue to keep ourselves physically distant from each other.”
Officials released projections (pdf) that claimed 95.6 percent of county residents would become infected as summer approaches if physical distancing goes back to the levels seen before the order was announced.
If physical distancing is maintained at current levels, nearly 30 percent of the county will become infected; if even stricter measures are introduced, only 5.5 percent of the county will get the new virus, according to the modeling, which was attributed to Roger Lewis, director of COVID-19 Demand Modeling, and Christina Ghaly, director of the county’s Department of Health Services.
“Virtually all residents in Los Angeles” would have been exposed or infected by Aug. 1 if residents returned to life as normal before the pandemic, Ghaly said at the press conference. The models showed “a huge decline” if measures were kept in place or ramped up.
“It remains likely that current measures are not sufficient to lead to a reduction in illness over time, and therefore more effective measures will be required,” officials wrote in the projections.
Los Angeles County has approximately 10 million residents, including 4 million in the city of Los Angeles. Some of the strictest measures in the nation have been introduced or discussed by Los Angeles officials.
LA County’s confirmed cases increased by 475 Friday to 8,430 and the deaths from COVID-19 increased by 18, for a total of 241.
Twenty-four percent of all cases, or 2,043, have been hospitalized in total. Around 20 percent of those hospitalized were on ventilators at one point or another.
The county had 1,611 open hospital beds as of April 9, including 277 open intensive care unit beds. Around 1,100 COVID-19 patients were in hospitals as of Thursday, including 479 in ICUs. Officials believe they’ll have enough hospital beds to handle the projected peak of cases while they’re working to boost intensive care capacity. The county has about 1,400 ventilators, which is “more than sufficient” for the expected hospitalizations, according to Ghaly.