Coronavirus infections in Los Angeles County continue to grow with hospitalizations at an all-time high, an increase in cases in younger people and new concerns for pregnant women, officials said Monday.
The L.A. County Department of Public Health reported 3,160 new cases and nine deaths on Monday. On Sunday, officials confirmed 2,848 new coronavirus cases, 53% of which were among people under the age of 41.
At a news conference on Monday, officials said the county has seen the highest number of hospitalizations in a single day reported with 2,232 people currently hospitalized. Twenty-six percent of patients are in the intensive care unit, while 19% are on ventilators.
“This is the fourth day in the past week that we have reported the highest number of patients being hospitalized,” Barbara Ferrer, the county’s public health director, said. “No matter how young you are, you are vulnerable to this virus.”
Another population that is more vulnerable to COVID-19, according to local and state health officials, is pregnant women. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, pregnant women who test positive for the coronavirus are more likely to be admitted to the hospital and at risk for ICU treatment. Since July 17, there have been 812 cases of COVID-19 among pregnant women in the county and 79% of them were symptomatic.
Ferrer said one pregnant woman died from COVID-19, while all newborns who have been tested for it have been negative.
Countywide, there have been 159,045 confirmed cases of coronavirus and a total of 4,104 deaths.
Because of the continued surge in coronavirus cases, the county has continued to rely heavily on contact tracers — currently there are 2,500 — who try to hone in on the source of the person’s infection, track who the infected person may have been around and find where they have visited.
But the process is complex because of the nature of COVID-19.
“COVID-19 has a long 14-day incubation period, and cases don’t develop symptoms right away, or even at all,” Ferrer explained. “These factors in the virus make pinpointing the source of the outbreaks very difficult.”
On average less than 50% of those infected provided contact tracers with information about their close contacts.
“We believe that this is because people have told us that they are fearful of losing their jobs, losing their housing and losing their relationships,” Ferrer said.
In an effort to bolster contact tracing participation, the county is offering a $20 gift card for those who fully participate in interview process, which takes about one hour.
Health officials continue to ask community members to heed state and local COVID-19 directives related to staying home as much as possible, wearing face coverings, social distancing and frequent hand washing.
“Contact tracing cannot slow this virus on its own,” Ferrer said. “This is truly a community effort. Together, we have the power to slow the devastating spread of this virus.”
More than 1.5 million people have been tested and 10% were positive. Health officials said the majority of all cases, 52%, have occurred in people under the age of 41.