Covid Now Infecting Mostly Younger People In Los Angeles; 83% Of New Cases Under 50 Years Old

Olive Boneflayer

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Los Angeles County’s alarming spike in Covid cases continued on Saturday, with a second-consecutive 1,000-plus tally of daily infections. The county reported 1,094 new cases and eight additional deaths.

On Friday there were 1,107 new Covid-19 infections. That was double the number reported a week prior and the county’s highest daily figure since March. The higher case counts are being detected despite a big fall in testing since the start of the year.

Saturday’s number is striking not just because it remained above 1,000, but also because tallies are usually much lower on weekends due to fewer tests and lags in reporting.

The number of people hospitalized in Los Angeles County because of the virus is also rising steadily, swelling from 336 on Friday to 373 on Saturday, according to state figures. There were 79 people in intensive care as of Saturday, down from 83 the previous day.

The 7-day average test positivity rate — considered one of the best measures of rising or falling infections — was 2.4%. One week ago that same rate was 1.5%. One month ago it was 0.3%. And, despite assumptions formed due to trends early in the pandemic, that spread is not happening among residents over 50.

Local health authorities said Saturday that transmission of Covid is increasing among younger, unvaccinated county residents. Of the 1,094 new cases reported by the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health, 83% are among people under the age of 50 years old with the highest number of new cases among residents between the ages of 18 and 49 years old: 70% of new cases.

“As cases increase, the urgency to get more people vaccinated is rising. Nearly 100% of new cases are occurring among those not fully vaccinated,” County Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer said. “All of our Covid-19 vaccines are very effective at protecting you from the severe disease from COVID-19 and variants of concern like the Delta variant. We remain focused on equitably bringing vaccines and high-quality health information to all of our L.A. County communities with a particular focus on those communities that have been hard hit by the pandemic.”

Certainly, the more people who get vaccinated, the less chance there is of infection, spread, and the rise of new variants. Unfortunately, roughly 15% of L.A. county’s 10 million residents are under the age of 12 and are not yet eligible for vaccination. Overall, only 4.7 million Angelenos have been fully inoculated.

The Delta variant is considered responsible for mass infections in India and outbreaks in the United Kingdom and Israel. In the latter two countries, studies indicated that, as a U.K. report said, “the increase was driven by mostly non-vaccinated young people.”

Last week, there were 634 Delta variant cases identified in California. The total on Friday was 1,085. That’s a 71% rise in just one week. Only a fraction of Covid-19 tests are genomically sequenced — the process by which individual variants are parsed — so the raw numbers are small compared to overall new case numbers. But genomic sequencing does give an up-or-down indication of variant spread.

Federal officials have said the variant is also believed to be responsible for a majority of new infections being reported in the United States — the vast majority of them among unvaccinated residents.

Across the U.S., the case and death counts doubled in the past 24 hours. There were 48,241 new cases and 518 new Covid-related deaths reported on Saturday, according to Johns Hopkins University. On Friday, the Hopkins count was a little over 20,000 and the number of deaths 257. Saturday’s 7-day average test positivity rate was 3.61%, up from 2.65% on Friday.

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