As beaches and businesses begin to reopen, health experts say they've seen a rapid rise in the number of cases of COVID-19, even as other states see their first wave of the virus fade.
According to data collected by Johns Hopkins University, California is one of nearly 20 states that has seen a rising number of coronavirus cases over the last five days, the Los Angeles Times reported.
An analysis conducted by the newspaper found the number of weekly cases in California continues to rise, with more than 17,000 cases of COVID-19 confirmed in the state last week. Of those, nearly 10,000 were confirmed in Los Angeles County. While Southern California has become the epicenter for the pandemic in the state, some counties in the Bay Area has also seen an increase in the number of confirmed cases, troubling health experts as cities begin to reopen.
However, it's uncertain whether the increasing number of cases is due to increased transmission, or whether the increased testing has contributed to the recent higher numbers.
On Friday, L.A. County reported 1,824 new cases of the coronavirus - a one-day record for the county. But that number also included a backlog of 500 cases that came from a single lab. On Tuesday, health officials reported ,202 new confirmed COVID-19 cases and 60 new deaths.
“If we do see an uptick in cases in a couple of weeks from now, it will likely mean that there has already been two to four weeks of increasing transmission by that time,'' Dr. Christina Ghaly, director of health services of L.A. County told the L.A. Times. “So at this point, we could be in the midst of a new upward curve, or transmission may not have increased at all. We just don't know yet.''
Even as the number of cases continues to rise, experts worry that there is a potential for a surge in cases as California begins reopening its businesses. Many parts of the state have begun allowing restaurant dining rooms, while other parts of the state have seen protests that often lack social distancing or masks.
“I'm always worried about a surge,'' Barbara Ferrer, the director of public health in Los Angeles County, said Monday. “We've always known that as more and more people are going to be out and about, we run this risk of there being a surge.''
Health experts with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate that between 20 and 50 percent of people infected with the coronavirus do not show any symptoms of the illness. However, those 'silent spreaders' are believed to transmit the virus just as easily as someone who has visible symptoms.
California has seen weekly hospitalizations and deaths fall statewide in recent weeks. Data from public health departments show that last week saw a 10 percent drop in the average number of people hospitalized with the coronavirus as compared to a month ago.
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