Photo: Frederic J. Brown/AFP via Getty Images

Health officials in Los Angeles County are sounding the alarm over a sudden and rapid surge in new coronavirus cases and hospitalizations, the LA Times reports.

Why it matters: The uptick has the potential to overwhelm the area's medical system, with health officials now projecting that LA County could run out of hospital beds in two to three weeks, according to the Times. Intensive care unit beds could reach their capacity sometime in July.

Between the lines: The recent spike has coincided with the relaxing of restrictions aimed at preventing the spread of the virus. California is in the third phase of Gov. Gavin Newsom's four-stage plan to reopen the state.

  • The transmission rate has increased since the state began easing the rules: In early May, every person who contracted the virus infected fewer than one person, on average. Now, each person with the virus infects an average of 1.26 people.
  • Newsom on Sunday ordered LA County and six others to close bars amid the new surge in cases.

What they're saying: “We are seeing an increase in transmission. We’re seeing more people get sick and go into the hospital. This is very much a change in the trajectory of the epidemic over the past several days. It’s a change for the worse and a cause for concern,” said Christina Ghaly, LA County’s director of health services.

  • Assuming the rate of transmission continues at the current rate, "we are at risk of running out of hospital beds if we don’t take steps to increase that capacity within the next two to three weeks,” said Roger Lewis, director of the COVID-19 demand modeling unit for LA County.
  • Lewis also pointed out that it can take three to four weeks after initial exposure for patients to become sick enough to be hospitalized. "So even if steps are taken immediately to reduce the spread in the community, we do expect to see a continued uptick in the next two to four weeks,” he added.

Go deeper

Updated Sep 21, 2020 - Politics & Policy

CDC says it mistakenly published guidance about COVID-19 spreading through air

CDC Director Robert Redfield. Photo: Anna Moneymaker/Pool/Getty Images

The CDC has removed new guidance that acknowledged airborne transmission of the coronavirus, posting in a note on its website that the guidance was only a draft and had been published in error.

Why it matters: The initial update — which was little noticed until a CNN story was published Sunday — had come months after scientists pushed for the agency to acknowledge the disease was transmissible through the air. The CDC previously said that close person-to-person contact was the bigger concern, and the language has been changed back to erase the warning about airborne transmission.

Sep 21, 2020 - Health

U.K. upgrades COVID alert level as Europe sees worrying rise in infections

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson leaves Downing Street on Sept. 21. Photo: Leon Neal/Getty Images

The U.K. could see up to 50,000 coronavirus cases per day by mid-October if current growth continues, top scientific advisers warned in a televised address from Downing Street on Monday.

The big picture: The U.K. has upgraded its coronavirus alert level from three to four as infections appear to be "high or rising exponentially." Meanwhile, recent European Center for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) data shows that over half of all European Union countries are seeing an increase in COVID-19 cases.

Caitlin Owens, author of Vitals
16 hours ago - Health

The CDC's crumbling reputation

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention abruptly removed new guidance saying that the coronavirus spreads via aerosols from its website yesterday, drawing a fresh barrage of criticism.

The big picture: Concerns about the CDC's competence and politicization have only grown as the pandemic rages on.

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