Dysynchrony, Part 2: Los Angeles County COVID-19 Chronicles


It occurred to me that publishing the LA County epidemic curve beginning in March may not be adequately illustrating the disconnect between public health messaging and numeric reality. So I have presented the past 10 weeks of the epidemic curve (from the week ending 7/17 until the week ending 9/25 in Figure 1 below).


Case rates have increased in Los Angeles County each week since 9/11. Increasing from 7.77 new daily cases per 100,000 population to 8.71 and 9.04. The light blue solid line represents the data trend line of which the last two weeks are above.


Most galling about the current LA County messaging is simply this – LA County has not attained the metrics (https://covid19.ca.gov/safer-economy/) set forth by the State to even begin discussing reopening. The highest risk tier (widespread, or purple) is set at greater than 7 new daily cases per 100,000 population. The State does some fancy footwork with ‘adjusting’ these rates, ostensibly to penalize counties that are not doing enough testing. Los Angeles County is doing far less testing than it was 10 weeks ago (Figure 2). LA County’s “adjusted” rate is 7.3 new daily cases per 100,000 which by my math is still above 7.


Yet in Los Angeles, we forge ahead reopening:
1. Schools (https://deadline.com/2020/09/los-angeles-county-coronavirus-some-schools-can-reopen-1234588351/)2. Indoor malls and salons (https://patch.com/california/los-angeles/la-allows-indoor-malls-salons-open-despite-coronavirus-uptick)3. Playgrounds (https://www.dailynews.com/la-county-to-open-nail-salons-indoor-malls-and-playgrounds)4. Breweries, Wineries, Card Rooms (https://www.nbclosangeles.com/news/coronavirus/labor-day-coronavirus-los-angeles-ghaly-reopening/2435797/)


The openings come despite what LA County Health Department Director Dr. Barbara Ferrer describes as a “small increase” in daily coronavirus case numbers when compared to the early part of September. She said the increase “may either reflect lower testing numbers at the beginning of the month, or they may reflect the fact that we’re starting to see some small increases in community transmission.”


I guess we will see which one it is correct, with the LA County population being subjects of this experiment.

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