Q&A: Senior LA County official warns of 1,000 new cases per day


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We spoke to Barbara Ferrer about where we are in the local effort to slow the spread of the coronavirus pandemic, as part of our regular weekday checks with the director of the LA County Public Health Department. .

Here are excerpts from what she told me today (you can listen to the full interview below):

Question: I know it’s a tough day. We had a big increase today in the number of deaths and the number of new cases that followed the relatively low numbers we talked about on Monday. So how should we interpret today’s numbers?


A: I think today’s numbers are real in terms of what we should expect. You know, a lot of times on the weekends there is a lot less testing to do. So our numbers on Sunday and Monday tend to be relatively low, and then they tend to increase on Tuesday and stay, at about the same rate for the week …

I think even with the increase in cases today and the increased number of deaths, all of the effort everyone is doing here in LA County is definitely making a difference. I don’t want people to get discouraged. I don’t want people to get discouraged. We’ve always predicted that as soon as we see more testing, we’re going to see more cases, and we actually think our cases will probably hit around 1,000 a day for at least a week or two as we ramp up the testing and before you can actually get to the other side of the pandemic.

Question: You know, Barbara, there’s a lot of talk today about what it will look like when we gradually relax stay-at-home orders. In your press conference today, you said the county will focus its efforts over the next few weeks on four areas:

  1. The ability to provide routine medical care in addition to COVID-19 care
  2. The ability to protect the most vulnerable from coronavirus infections
  3. Widespread testing and isolation of infected people
  4. The ability to maintain physical distancing in businesses and schools

And then the governor released the state framework that includes six guidelines that he says he will follow. How do you see the county and state directives working together?


A: I think they are quite close. I did not have the governor’s views before I spoke today, but did consider them when I walked into my office. You know, I think from the start we’ve been very lucky in the state to have a close collaboration between counties and with the state governor and with our mayors here … and with the oversight board. . Everyone is aligned with the same goal …

Ferrer went on to tell me that we need a combination of physical distancing, testing, quarantine, and isolation strategies until we have a lot of good treatment options, or at least a good one or two. treatments. Ultimately, she said the goal was to “get closer and closer to a vaccine.”

That doesn’t mean we can’t reopen. We need to make sure that our economy is able to come back and with all the dynamism that we would like to see. But we have to do it in a way that doesn’t end up causing a lot more deaths and overloading the health care system, because then we’re back where we were. We are back with the need to close.

Listen to my full conversation with Ferrer which aired in our newsroom’s afternoon magazine, All Things Considered, which I host for 89.3 KPCC.

Megan Erwin contributed to this report.

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