On Saturday, officials with the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health announced 13 new deaths and 1,343 newly confirmed cases of COVID-19, bringing the county’s total number of positive cases to 259,817 and the total number of virus-linked deaths to 6,330.
“There are currently 732 people hospitalized, of which 31% are confirmed cases in the ICU,” officials said.
Though a recent rise in daily cases “is likely to reflect the re-opening of testing sites and increases in the number of people tested this past week,” said officials, “the rise in cases may also suggest increased transmission over the Labor Day holiday.”
“We will be following our case numbers carefully over this upcoming week,” they added, noting the county’s test positivity rate remained at 3% last week.
“We are making tremendous efforts in the county to reduce community spread of COVID-19 so that we can continue to open additional sectors with as much safety as possible. The recent increases in the number of new cases is of concern because it may reflect increased exposures associated with Labor Day activities,” said Director of Public Health Barbara Ferrer in a statement.
“We are reminded that we need to carefully choose how to celebrate our holidays since our actions influence our recovery journey. Increases in cases in the past have resulted in more hospitalizations and more deaths. Please do everything you can to plan your holiday activities to avoid transmission of COVID-19 by following the public health distancing and infectious control directives. We still need to lower the number of new cases so that all students can get back to school and more business sectors can re-open,” she added.
The news comes after a study recently concluded that the novel virus may have been in Los Angeles earlier than once thought, possibly around Christmas before it was officially identified in the U.S overall.
Researchers from the University of California, Los Angeles, and the University of Washington discovered a spike in patients with acute respiratory failure and coughs at UCLA Health hospitals and clinics around late December 2019, when they analyzed health records. The findings published in a report in the Journal of Medical Internet Research suggest that novel coronavirus may have been surfacing in the area months before the first case was officially identified.
Fox News's Amy McGorry contributed to this report.