‘We did not expect increases to be this steep this quickly’: L.A. County coronavirus cases surge among younger residents amid reopening, bringing case total to 93,232

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Los Angeles County officials reported a surge in known coronavirus infections among younger residents as another 1,809 cases were confirmed, bringing the countywide total to 93,232 Friday.

About 9% of people getting tested for the virus were found to be positive — an increase from the 8% positivity rate reported the day before, according to the L.A. County Department of Public Health. The densely populated county’s positivity rate is much higher than the statewide 5.7%, but the increase mirrors a trend seen across California this week.

Hospitalizations for COVID-19 have also climbed in L.A. County, with 1,676 people being treated for the respiratory illness Friday.

And with another 25 deaths reported, the county’s COVID-19 death toll climbed to 3,267.

“While we did anticipate increases in cases as sectors reopened, we did not expect the increases to be this steep this quickly,” county public health Director Barbara Ferrer said in a statement.

The county allowed certain businesses to reopen in phases, with nail salons, bars and tattoo parlors among the latest to welcome back customers — all with guidelines for mitigating the spread of the virus.

But inspectors visiting newly reopened businesses over recent weekends found 3,109 businesses that weren’t in full compliance with the county’s guidelines, which include requiring masks and moving furniture around to allow for social distancing.

As more people leave their homes and socialize, cases are spiking among younger county residents, increasing 44% in just over two weeks for people between 18 to 40 years old, according to health officials.

More than 11,620 people in that age group tested positive for the virus just since June 10.

It is estimated that over 500,000 people visited L.A. County bars, breweries, wineries and lounges on June 20 alone, the health director said.

Ferrer urged residents to wear masks and practice physical distancing, explaining that the virus hasn’t changed and remains easily transmitted.

“Without immediate actions to slow the spread, we risk having too many people requiring hospital care and possibly overwhelming our healthcare system,” Ferrer said.

Officials have stressed that the county’s hospitalization capacity is a crucial metric to watch as the county moves through reopening, with officials fearing a surge can overwhelm hospitals.

“Preventing the continued surge in cases and hospitalizations calls on each of us to do our part,” Ferrer said. “The time for all of L.A. County to do the right thing is now.”

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