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LA County coronavirus cases surge past 100,000 with record high one-day tally

Colleen Shalby and Maura Dolan, Los Angeles Times on

Published in News & Features

LOS ANGELES -- Los Angeles County confirmed 22 additional coronavirus-related deaths and 2,903 new coronavirus cases Monday, the largest single-day number of new infections the county has reported since the pandemic hit the U.S.

The daily tally brings the total number of coronavirus cases in L.A. County to more than 100,000.

The alarming spike in cases is not only related to increased testing, Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer said. The surge is proof that community transmission has "definitively" increased as the positivity rate of infection nears 9%. Officials are now warning that one in 140 residents is likely to be unkowingly infected with virus -- a huge increase since last week's projection of one in 400.

In addition, health officials revealed that more than 500,000 people visited newly reopened nightlife spots in Los Angeles County on June 20 when the county gave the green light for bars, breweries, wineries and similar businesses to reopen.

Officials said that 49% of bars and 33% of restaurants in the county were not adhering to social distancing protocols this past week. Additionally, inspectors found that workers at 54% of bars and 44% of restaurants were not wearing face masks or shields.

"There are a number of businesses and individuals who have not followed the directives, and they've gone back to living like COVID-19 is not living in our community," Ferrer said. "If you're not part of the solution to slow the spread, you're ending up being part of the problem."

The news follows the state's order that seven counties -- including Los Angeles -- must close their bars, while eight others were encouraged to follow suit.

Across the state, infections have increased by 45% over the past 14 days and hospitalizations have grown by 43%.

Officials have previously said that the increase in COVID-19 infections is "highly likely" the result of people gathering en masse at protests over the death of George Floyd, in addition to clusters who have congregated in restaurants and at private gatherings.

But because contact tracers do not track the start of spread in public spaces, it is often impossible to know the origin of transmission. Still, Gov. Gavin Newsom said Monday that the surge in cases is caused largely "by people mixing that were otherwise not mixing in the past," before the state allowed the further reopening of select businesses.

And the spike is occurring statewide. Orange County confirmed 56 coronavirus-related deaths last week, the highest weekly death toll that the county has reported since the pandemic hit the U.S.

According to the California Department of Public Health, which collects information from each county's distinct tracking methods, the biggest spike in cases and deaths occurred Wednesday, when 733 new cases and 24 deaths were reported.

With the spike in deaths and cases, Newsom announced Monday that Orange County -- which has the third-most cases in the state -- was added to the list of now 19 counties that the state is watching for surges in infection numbers or hospitalization rates.

While Orange County continues to move forward with its expanded reopening, other parts of California are scaling back.

The state on Sunday ordered the closure of bars in seven counties on its watch list -- Los Angeles, Fresno, Kern, San Joaquin, Tulare, Kings and Imperial -- and encouraged the same of eight others -- Contra Costa, Santa Clara, Sacramento, Riverside, Ventura, San Bernardino, Santa Barbara and Stanislaus.


Contra Costa County officials on Monday announced they will further delay reopenings as COVID-19 cases surged past 2,800 infections.

The county previously had cleared bars, personal services not involving close contact with the face, indoor dining, gyms, fitness centers, limited indoor leisure activities, museums and hotels for tourism and individual travel to reopen July 1.

"With the sharp rise in community spread and hospitalizations, it does not make sense at this time to open additional business sectors that could further accelerate community transmission," officials said.

"These businesses and activities will remain closed in Contra Costa until county data indicate that the spread of the virus has slowed, as measured by at least a week of stable case numbers, hospitalizations and% of tests that are positive," the county added in a statement on its public health website."

The seven-day average number of COVID-19 patients in hospitals in the county rose by 75% from June 15 to June 29. The number of residents testing positive for the disease has risen from 38 to 87 a day, with the percentage of positive tests moving from 5% to 6%.

The slowed efforts come as the state inches closer to crossing 6,000 deaths. All the while, the number of cases has skewed more heavily toward younger residents.

Most of those who have tested positive for infection in California fall between the ages of 18 and 49, according to state data. That group consists of 118,900 individuals, the bulk of the state's more than 500,000 cases. Some counties break those numbers down further. In L.A. County, 41% of the nearly 100,000 cases are now among individuals between the ages of 18 and 40.

"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," the health department shared in a statement Sunday.

In Riverside County, which accounts for the second-highest number of cases in the state, residents between the ages of 18 and 39 account for more than 5,900. In San Bernardino County, more than 2,100 people between the ages of 18 and 29 have been infected, and more than 2,200 people between the ages of 30 and 39 have been infected.

The age of those testing positive is shifting younger. In June, 55% of those testing positive were 40 years and younger, compared with 38% in that group in April.

"It's a sign that younger people are playing a major role in driving the increase in new cases and potentially infecting vulnerable individuals," the county said.

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