Los Angeles County recorded 2,169 new coronavirus cases Saturday as hospitalizations for the respiratory illness increased significantly, officials said.
“We are at a critical moment in our COVID-19 recovery journey,” county Health Director Barbara Ferrer said in a written statement, reporting the coronavirus case count in L.A. County climbed to 95,371 with a total of 3,285 deaths.
The county’s seven-day average rate of positive coronavirus tests surged from 5.8% two weeks ago to 8.6% Saturday, with the overall rate increasing from 8% to 9%.
And while COVID-19 hospitalizations in recent weeks have remained steady at around 1,350 to 1,450 patients being treated for the respiratory illness each day, there were 1,698 across the county’s hospitals Saturday.
Known infections have particularly spiked among younger residents, increasing 44% in just over two weeks for people between 18 to 40 years old, as more spaces in the county reopened for business.
Officials have said that while increased testing among that age group may be contributing to the rise, the increased hospitalizations indicate there’s been more virus transmission in communities.
“With increased contact among non-household members, there are many more opportunities for transmission of COVID-19, particularly if public health directives are not followed, and the data is now showing concerning trends,” Ferrer said.
Ferrer reported Thursday that 3,109 businesses visited by inspectors in recent weekends weren’t in full compliance with the county’s guidelines to mitigate the spread of the virus, a troubling sign as more people leave their homes and hospitalization rates increase.
Those with underlying health conditions remain the hardest hit as the virus continues to spread, with 94% of those who have died so far having some sort of medical condition like diabetes, heart disease or obesity.
“Our collective responsibility is to take immediate action, as individuals and businesses, to reverse the trends we are experiencing,” the health director said, calling on residents to wear face coverings and practice physical distancing.
Ferrer has said that though officials anticipated an increase in cases as they allowed more spaces to reopen and eased stay-at-home orders, the recent surge in infections and hospitalizations was not expected.
“If we can’t find it in us to follow these mandates, including wearing face coverings and distancing when around others, we jeopardize our ability to move forward on the recovery journey,” Ferrer said.
It’s unclear whether the county will choose to reinstate stay-at-home orders or pause reopening.
San Francisco Mayor London Breed has announced the city would halt its reopening of some businesses, while Gov. Gavin Newsom on Friday asked Imperial County to reimpose orders after its coronavirus positivity rate skyrocketed.