LOS ANGELES – Health officials in Los Angeles announced Tuesday that not only is the situation with the Coronavirus pandemic worsening as cases of new infections and hospitalizations spike, but more than half of new cases are also young persons.
“The tragedy of what we are witnessing is that many of our younger residents are interacting with each other and not adhering to the recommended prevention measures, while our older residents continue to experience the results of this increased spread with the worst health outcomes, including death,” said Dr. Barbara Ferrer, Los Angeles County’s Director of Public Health.
Her department confirmed 50 new deaths and 2,741 new cases of COVID-19. Of the new cases reported by LA County Public Health Tuesday in a statement (excluding Long Beach and Pasadena), 57% occurred in people under the age of 41 years old.
There are 2,218 confirmed cases currently hospitalized, 26% of these people are confirmed cases in the ICU and 18% are confirmed cases on ventilators. This is the third consecutive day of over 2,200 hospitalizations. To date, LA County Public Health has identified 161,673 positive cases of COVID-19 across all areas of LA County, and a total of 4,154 deaths.
This rapid surge in numbers is in part due to officials re-opening too quickly County and City sources have privately expressed to the Blade. Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti appearing on CNN, was asked by host Jake Trapper about a Los Angeles Times editorial that criticized the rapid reopening pace in his city as well as other parts of the State of California, which was followed by a spike in new COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations.
The mayor told Trapper that “I do agree those things happened too quickly,” Garcetti said, adding that the decisions were made at the state and county levels, not by city officials. He cautioned that he was on the verge of rolling back the city’s reopening and issuing a new widespread stay-at-home order.
“It’s not just what’s opened and closed, it’s also about what we do individually,” Garcetti said. “It’s about the people who are getting together outside of their households, with people they might know. It might be their extended family, it might be friends. They might think because they got a test two weeks ago, that it’s OK. But it’s not,” he added.
Sources within the LA County government Tuesday told the Blade that discussions were underway regarding a potential scaling back of re-opening, but emphasized that no decisions have been reached.
Against this backdrop of surges, not only in Los Angeles but across the United States- as of Monday, CNN reported that 31 states have seen more new cases this past week compared to new cases from the previous week, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.
During a Tuesday afternoon White House coronavirus briefing, President Donald Trump told reporters that “It will probably, unfortunately, get worse before it gets better.” The president also pointed out that there had been a reduction in deaths and rapidly evolving progress on vaccines and treatments for COVID-19, which the president referred to repeatedly as the “China virus.”
Trump offered belated encouragement for Americans to wear masks when social distancing is not possible, “Whether you like the mask or not, they have an impact.”
“I’m getting used to the mask,” he said, pulling one out from his pocket, after months of suggesting that mask-wearing was a political statement against him. He had tweeted a picture of himself Monday wearing a mask with the presidential seal during his visit to the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center complex in Bethesda, Maryland earlier this month.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert, told NPR Tuesday that he was glad Trump has begun to promote mask-wearing and expressed optimism the president would reinforce that message Tuesday.
“If we, during those conferences, come out and have consistent, clear non-contradictory messages, I believe it will be very helpful in getting people on the track of knowing the direction that we need to go to get this pandemic under control,” he said.
Earlier on Tuesday, the president on his Twitter account claimed “tremendous progress” on vaccines and treatments for COVID-19. Trump also claimed that “by comparison to most other countries, who are suffering greatly, we are doing very well – and we have done things that few other countries could have done!”
Health experts at leading research universities including Johns-Hopkins in Baltimore, Maryland have established that in fact the United States leads the world in confirmed cases, 3,897,465 and 141,972 deaths from the virus as of Tuesday morning — and ranks near the top on a per-capita basis as well.
The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health urges Angelenos to avoid “the Three C’s: Crowded places, Confined spaces, and Close contact with others not in your household. Everyone should always wear a face-covering securely over your nose and mouth and keep six feet apart from others not in your household when out in public. Public Health reminds everyone that you remain safer at home.”
Additional reporting by Agence France-Presse, CNN, NPR, and KTLA Los Angeles