Citing continued technical problems impacting coronavirus test results, Los Angeles County reported 713 new COVID-19 cases Tuesday, along with 39 new virus-related deaths.
The exact nature of the technical glitch with “data reporting systems” wasn’t disclosed, but county health officials said it was contributing to lower than normal daily reports of positive cases.
Prior to the technical problem arising late last week, the county had been reporting four-digit daily increases in case numbers.
The 713 new cases reported by the county Tuesday, along with 89 announced by health officials in Long Beach and nine by Pasadena, increased the cumulative total since the start of the pandemic to 290,107.
The 39 new deaths increased the countywide total from throughout the pandemic to 6,912.
There were 730 people hospitalized in the county due to the virus as of Tuesday, up from 722 on Monday but down from 752 on Sunday.
The Department of Public Health reported that inspectors who fanned out across county over the weekend found the majority of the 437 businesses visited were in compliance with health protocols. Others, however, were falling short, with nearly half failing to post detailed information about the protocols enacted at the business. Gyms visited by inspectors “need to improve on ensuring their employees and patrons are wearing a face covering,” according to the county.
“Because COVID-19 is still spreading throughout L.A. County, businesses have a duty to protect employees, customers and residents from transmission of COVID-19 as much as possible and implement all requirements in the business protocols that prevent COVID-19 transmission,” according to a statement from the county.
Health officials again urged businesses and employees to participate in a COVID-19 Safety Compliance Certification Program to ensure they are fully trained in protocols required for safe operations. According to the county, 3,176 employers have taken part in the training program thus far, along with 2,888 employees.
On Monday, county public health director Barbara Ferrer said younger residents are still driving up local coronavirus case numbers, with large and small gatherings responsible for increased transmission.
Ferrer said people between 18 and 49 now account for 58% of all new COVID-19 cases in the county. The 12-50 age group represents 68% of all new cases. Ferrer also noted increasing percentages among younger people hospitalized due to the virus. She said in mid-May that people aged 18-29 represented 5% of hospitalized virus patients, but now, “that’s doubled to about 10% of all hospitalizations.”
“As you can see, people of all ages are at risk of being infected with COVID-19, and it’s our younger groups that are keeping our case counts high,” Ferrer said. “But we also see that people of all ages can unfortunately become tragically ill and some people will pass away. So it’s important that people of all ages understand and use every tool we have to protect themselves and each other from transmission of this virus.”
Ferrer pointed specifically to gatherings — ranging from small get-togethers with friends to family celebrations to large-scale protests and sports victory celebrations — as major contributors to the virus’ continued spread.
Los Angeles County recently updated its local health order actually authorizing small gatherings of up to three households, a stark change from earlier recommendations that people gather only with people in their own households. Health officials have stressed, however, that the new guidance is not an encouragement to hold such gatherings but an effort to impose health protocols on them, since authorities know they’ve been happening regardless of the warnings.
“They’re pretty prescribed — they need to be outside; everyone needs to be wearing a face covering; people need to be six feet apart,” Ferrer said. “And that’s just because we cannot afford to have more cases here in L.A. County.”
That concern will grow as fall approaches, bringing with it the Thanksgiving holiday. Ferrer said holiday gatherings can be held outside with up to three households, if all the required protocols are met. But if cooler weather prevails and forces celebrations indoors, they need to be limited to just one household.
“We’re increasingly becoming aware of how much easier it is to transmit this virus indoors, particularly in a setting like Thanksgiving where people are going to spend a lot of time eating and drinking, which means you’re not going to necessarily keep that face covering on yourself and your guests won’t be able to do that,” Ferrer said.
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