Transmission rate of COVID-19 reaches highest in LA County

The transmission rate of COVID-19, or the R number, has reached 1.27, the highest ever for the most populous county in the United States, Los Angeles County’s health official said on Wednesday.

The transmission rate is a measure of how many additional people are likely to get infected from a single person who is currently sick. Any number over 1.0 means that the current infection rate is rising, Christina Ghaly, director of the county’s health services department, explained at a virtual news conference.

For every 10 people who are sick at present, for example, an R of 1.27 means there might be about 13 people infected in five days and 20 in two weeks, she said.

Noting that one out of every 145 Los Angeles County residents is currently infectious, Ghaly said that “doubling or quadrupling these numbers could stretch our healthcare systems severely.”Shortages in hospital beds in the next two to four weeks, including ICU beds, are expected, according to the expert.

Los Angeles County reported another 49 coronavirus-related deaths Wednesday and 4,311 more cases, while 1,682 people are currently hospitalized. The county has registered a cumulative total of 7,543 deaths related to the virus and 378,323 cases since the pandemic began.

In order to contain the strong resurge of the pandemic, the county has implemented a series of measures since Wednesday, including shutting down outdoor dining for at least three weeks, in an effort to help contain the spread.

And the local government said it could issue new restrictions to combat the fatal disease this week, but a new “Safer at Home” order would not be as restrictive as the one issued in March that closed schools and barred travel outside a household, except for groceries.”

The holidays are going to be different this year. Don’t spend them in the ICU. Wear a mask, keep physical distance, wash your hands and avoid gatherings to protect yourself and loved ones,” the county government tweeted, as Thanksgiving Day is drawing near.