The percentage of Los Angeles County residents being tested for coronavirus who turn out to be positive is continuing its ominous climb, while the number of people hospitalized also inched upward.
According to the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health the seven-day daily average of positive test results rose to 8.8% on Friday, up from 8.4% on Thursday and well above the current statewide average of about 5.7%.
The overall rate of positive tests in the county had long been hovering at about 8%, but that rate as of Friday has risen to 9% thanks to the latest surge.
The number of people hospitalized in L.A. County as of Friday was 1,676, a number that has been steadily increasing over the past two weeks, soaring above the recent average of between 1,350 and 1,450. At the peak of the virus, the county averaged about 1,900 patients in hospitals.
Also on Friday, county health officials announced another 1,809 confirmed cases of the coronavirus, although 110 of those cases were actually announced Thursday afternoon by officials in Long Beach and Pasadena.
Long Beach announced another 134 cases Friday, while Pasadena added 25.
The new cases lifted the countywide total to 93,391.
The county also announced another 24 deaths, while Long Beach reported two more, raising the overall countywide total to 3,269.
While the average number of daily deaths from the virus has been dropping, the number of daily new cases is also on the rise. According to the county, the seven-day average number of new cases was 1,979 as of Friday, up from 1,379 just two weeks ago.
Some officials have attributed the rise in overall cases to increases in testing, but county public health director Barbara Ferrer said repeatedly this week that the higher numbers, combined with rising levels of hospital visits and positivity rates clearly demonstrate an increase in community spread of COVID-19.
Health officials said Friday the rise in cases hitting the county’s younger population particularly hard — likely reflecting reopenings of bars and restaurants and participation in this month’s mass demonstrations against police brutality.
According to the county, the number of cases among residents aged 18-40 jumped by 44% in the past 16 days, from 24,457 on June 10 to 35,249 on Thursday.
Ferrer said Thursday that residents and business owners — most notably bars and restaurants — have a joint responsibility to adhere to health requirements and protocols. She noted that over the three recent weekends after restaurants and bars were permitted to reopen for dine-in service, county inspectors visited more than 3,700 establishments, and 83% of them were found not to be in full compliance with county protocols for reopening.
Ferrer said that over the past two months, the largest percentage of complaints the Department of Public Health received about restaurants and other businesses were violations of the requirement that safety protocols be publicly posted at each establishment and distributed to employees. The second most common complaint was people not wearing face coverings.
“Business owners, we ask that you too do your part,” Ferrer said Thursday. “Our guidelines are not suggestions. They are mandates. If you see someone in your business that’s not wearing a face covering, take action. If you see large groups of people congregating in your business, question whether those folks truly came from the same household and take action. Ask them to step away from each other.
“I know this is difficult. It’s summer, restaurants and bars are open and things seem like they’re back to normal, but they’re not. The virus is deadly. The virus remains in our community and if we don’t collectively take the necessary steps to be safe we’ll continue to see people we love get sick, be hospitalized and potentially die.”
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