Los Angeles County public health officials on Sunday reported 1,590 new cases of the coronavirus and four related deaths.
The numbers brought the county’s total to 309,197 cases and 7,074 deaths.
There were 799 confirmed coronavirus patients in county hospitals on Friday, with 28% in intensive care, officials said. Though hospitalizations have increased slightly, they remain far below the 2,220-plus patients seen during the peak of the outbreak in July.
Still, many Southern California communities are reporting increases in the number of cases recorded each day, a concerning trend that has some officials worried that transmission of the virus could be on the rise.
In order to determine when a county can move to the next phase of reopening under California’s four-tier plan, the state monitors how many cases have been reported per 100,000 residents over a recent seven-day period. In larger counties, the rate is adjusted to account for how much testing is being done.
L.A. County’s adjusted case rate increased last week to eight per 100,000 residents, from 7.6 the week before.
In Orange County, which reported 233 new coronavirus cases and one death Sunday, the case rate ticked up to 5.1 from 4.6 the week before. Riverside County reported its most recent adjusted case rate at 10.1, up from 9.1 the week before. And San Bernardino County reported an adjusted case rate of 11.9, up from 10.9.
L.A., Riverside and San Bernardino counties all remain in the purple tier, the most restrictive, meaning risk of transmission remains widespread, and most nonessential businesses are closed for indoor operations. To move into the next tier, red, a county must have an adjusted rate of no more than seven cases per 100,000 residents.
Orange County is classified within the red tier. In order to move into the less-restrictive orange tier, which means that the risk of transmission is considered moderate and some indoor business operations can resume with modifications, the county must reduce its adjusted case rate to four cases per 100,000 residents.
It’s not clear what is driving the increase in cases in Southern California. Some officials have blamed parties as likely contributors, particularly gatherings celebrating the recent Lakers and Dodgers wins.
The trend is also playing out elsewhere across the United States, which on Thursday broke the single-day record for the highest number of coronavirus cases, then did so again Friday.
This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.