COVID-19 Cases, Hospitalizations and Positivity Rates Increasing in Los Angeles County

At a local Juneteenth event some residents wear masks while others do not. – Photo by Terry Miller / Beacon Media News

The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health (Public Health) is reporting significant increases in COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations and the testing positivity rate. The seven-day average of daily new cases is over 1,900; an increase from the 1,379 average two weeks ago. As of Sunday, there were 1,717 people hospitalized, higher than the 1,350 to 1,450 daily hospitalizations seen in recent weeks. The cumulative positivity rate has increased from 8% to 9%, and the seven-day average of the daily positivity rate has increased from 5.8% two weeks ago to 8.7% Sunday.

COVID-19 cases are spiking among county residents between the ages of 18 and 40. As of Sunday, 41% of cases were among this age group. Statewide, 44% of recent cases occurred in people younger than 35, according to a study by George Lemp, director of the University of California’s HIV/AIDS Research Program. While cases in this age range typically have low risk for serious illness or death, Public Health is concerned they may unknowingly infect parents, grandparents, and friends and family who have underlying health conditions and who are at greater risk for serious illness and death. 

This spike among young people is not limited to L.A. County — several states are seeing a similar phenomenon. According to The Hill, “The spikes suggest young adults are both more likely to hold front-line service jobs that put them at risk and more likely to ignore some of the social distancing practices advised by health experts.”

At the beginning of the outbreak messaging largely underscored the risks to older adults, now “some younger adults may perceive they are less at risk than their parents or grandparents and are more likely to venture back into society as it reopens — that could mean going to restaurants or social gatherings or returning to the workplace,” reports NPR.

Another explanation for the rise among young people may be due to testing. At the beginning of the virus, testing was limited to those who were older, exhibiting symptoms or had underlying health conditions. Testing is far more accessible to this age group now.

Rising case numbers and positivity rates prompted Governor Gavin Newsom to order that bars close in Fresno, Kern, Kings, Los Angeles and Tulare counties. The California Department of Public Health and the governor also recommended that the following counties close bars: Riverside, Sacramento, San Bernardino, Santa Barbara, Stanislaus, and Ventura.

Although a mask mandate was put in place by the governor earlier this month, many continue to ignore the order. Some have gone so far as to make fake “mask exemption cards.” Following reports of these phony cards that depict a government seal with threatening language, Public Health warns businesses and the public that this information is false. Everyone, except children under the age of 2, should wear a face covering securely over their nose and mouth any time they leave the house and keep six feet apart from others not in your household when out and about. People with medical conditions that prevent safe use of a face covering are asked to wear a face shield.

June 29, 2020

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