“Of course we’re watching this with caution,” said L.A. director of Public Health Barbara Ferrer today. “We’re all noticing actually the case rate across California inched up as a whole, as well as the uptick in hospitalizations,” which she said were up about 5%.
In Los Angeles, Ferrer reported the test positivity rose to 1.2% today from a low 0.7% on October 18. That may not seem like much, but it’s a 71% rise over the past 10 days in a measure that’s a 7-day average, which smooths out daily bumps.
Statewide, test positivity is much higher and has risen 25% over roughly the same period. It’s increased from a low of 2% last week to 2.5% today. Both state and county test positivity rates had been falling for months after their summer peaks.
Among the concerns is “seasonality in the virus,” Ferrer observed, meaning viruses like Covid and the flu tend to propagate more readily as the weather cools and people spend more time together indoors.
“We all lived through a devastating November/December last year,” said Ferrer. “We have to learn from past history to not move quickly when we see a slight downward trend, given that we’re moving into colder weather.”
Indeed, with 61% of all L.A. County residents fully vaccinated and the pace of vaccinations slowing, “We’re all gonna need extra protection to continue to drive our numbers down. There’s always the potential for a new variant,” she observed.
“We’ve got to be mindful of the winter months and safely enjoying the holidays together,” said Newsom on Wednesday. “We now have the prospect of a flu season that was mitigated last year” by masks and social distancing coming roaring back. He cited the potential for a “twindemic” of increased flu cases and another winter wave of Covid after last year’s flu was mitigated by increased mask wearing, which has abated somewhat. After all, it was right about the end of October when the winter 2020 surge began accelerating.
“This time last year,” observed the governor, “we had about 6,000 cases. One month later we had 18,000 cases. One month after that, we had 54,000.”
“Basically,” he said, the state saw “a tripling of cases.” Couple that with increased flu and kids back in school, and Newsom said he is concerned.
“What’s going on in the UK right now?” he asked. “It’s a month or so ahead. What’s going on in Israel?
“The one thing we’ve learned in the past 18 months,” he continued, is “humility” in the face of Covid.