LA hospitalization rates are down, contact tracing capacity is strong, says Barbara Ferrer

LA County is allowing some in-store shopping and religious services to resume — with restrictions on how many people can be in one place at one time. It’s opening slower than the rest of the state because it’s the epicenter of California’s outbreak. 

But there are growing concerns — in the county and the state — that reopening here is happening too fast. 

LA County has more than 46,000 cases of COVID-19 and more than 2000 deaths. Experts still say the true number of cases is likely much higher than the official numbers.

Barbara Ferrer, Director of LA County’s Department of Public Health, says she looks at different metrics when deciding to reopen the local economy. 

“Two or three that are critically important for us to pay attention to is what's happening in our hospitals. So we look a lot at sort of the daily hospitalization rate. And embedded in that is, of course, paying attention to the percent of people in the intensive care units and the percent of people that need to be using ventilators. And that number for LA County has been steadily declining.”

When it comes to contact tracing, she says about 1300 people in LA are doing that right now. “Our rate is 100% … reaching out to people within 24 hours.”

She says the county must continue to slow the spread. “We can’t have a big increase at any point, not in the summer, not in the fall. Those huge spikes will overwhelm the health care system. And that just leads to more disasters for everyone, not just COVID-19 patients, but for other patients as well.”