Health officials urge caution as L.A. County records 2 more cases of U.K. coronavirus variant

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With Los Angeles County recording another two cases of the coronavirus variant first detected in the United Kingdom, health officials are urging residents Saturday to continue following public safety guidelines — even as overall infection numbers fall.

“With the U.K. variant circulating in the County, we will likely see more variant cases identified in the County,” L.A. County Director of Public Health Barbara Ferrer said in a statement. “We must remain diligent with our safety measures even though we see overall decreases in cases, hospitalizations and deaths.”

L.A. County now has a total of 14 confirmed cases of the U.K. variant, B.1.1.7. But health officials have said there’s likely more.

Though health experts say current COVID-19 vaccines will likely work against B.1.1.7., the variant is known to spread more easily from person to person and has caused alarm as it was detected in 42 states nationwide.

The CDC predicts the variant could become dominant in the U.S. by March.

U.K. scientists suggest the variant could also be more deadly — though more studies are needed on this.

“Let’s keep our guard up because we know letting our guard down will lead to more cases and, tragically, more deaths again,” Ferrer said.

The L.A. County Department of Public Health urged residents to keep at least six feet of distance from others, wear masks, stay home if sick or exposed to the virus and consider getting tested.

“These measures limit the spread of the virus and known variants and can reduce the likelihood of a surge in cases due to this variant,” the health department officials said.

The county is recovering from an unprecedented surge in infections that overcrowded hospitals and left local morgues scrambling.

More than 19,790 people have died of COVID-19 so far in L.A. County.

Younger residents continue to drive up the latest infection numbers, though it’s those 65 and older who account for a large percentage of the deaths.

Of the 2,393 new cases reported Saturday, 64% were younger than 50. Meanwhile, residents 65 and older made up just 15% of new infections but 71% of the deaths reported.

There were 2,498 people hospitalized with COVID-19 throughout the county Saturday, 30% of them in intensive care units.

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