Even as Los Angeles County sees COVID-19 vaccinations ramp up and case rates decline, younger residents are still driving the majority of daily coronavirus infections, officials said Saturday.
“Though we are making good progress in our vaccination efforts, we are entering a potentially perilous time if people let their guard down,” L.A. County Health Director Barbara Ferrer said in a statement.
Ferrer’s warning comes after more businesses reopened indoors as the region moved to the less-restrictive red tier in the state’s four tier, color-coded reopening plan.
“Many younger people are out socializing with non-household members, raising concerns that asymptomatic young people are unknowingly helping to spread the virus to more vulnerable people,” she said.
Mirroring trends seen in previous months — though at a smaller scale — infection rates are higher among L.A. County residents younger than 50, but it’s the older residents who are seeing more deaths.
Of Saturday’s 521 newly recorded cases, more than 70% are among people younger than 50.
But of the 56 whose deaths were reported Saturday, 93% of them were older than 50, according to the L.A. County Department of Public Health.
The health director urged residents to remain steadfast in adhering to virus control measures, like wearing masks, avoiding large gatherings and delaying non-essential travel.
“This is particularly important with the recent movement of the County to the Red Tier and as restrictions get lifted,” she said.
While health experts say gathering outdoors is always safer, indoor private gathering of up to three separate households are now allowed in L.A. County — but with masking and distancing required at all times.
“Gatherings, even with people you know who have no symptoms and have tested negative, can still result in spread of the virus to many people,” the health department warned.
Since the coronavirus first arrived in the county, it has claimed the lives of 22,777 residents and infected 1,213,784 people.
“Just because certain activities can resume or reopening protocols are revised, that does not mean that those activities are safe or without risk,” the health department said. “We are still in the middle of a pandemic, and whenever there are more opportunities for interactions with people not in your household, there can be more opportunities for transmission of the virus.”