As Los Angeles County residents celebrated the Fourth of July this weekend, county hospitals were hit with the most COVID-19 patients since April 28, its worst day on record.
A total of 1,947 people were hospitalized as of July 3 with confirmed cases of COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus. The number dropped slightly to 1,921 on July 4.
“This is the highest number that we have been reporting over the recent weeks,” said Barbara Ferrer, county health director in a Monday press conference.
At its highest point, the number of patients hospitalized with confirmed cases of COVID-19 happened on April 28 with 1,962 people hospitalized, according to the latest available county data.
A week prior on June 27, a total of 1,710 people with confirmed cases of COVID-19 were hospitalized.
The confirmed cases are in addition to the people hospitalized with suspected cases of COVID-19, which were 696 on July 3 and 653 on July 4.
Officials also noted more young people are accounting for the county’s hospitalizations: people between 18 and 40 years old now account for about 25% of hospitalized cases, up from about 10% in April.
Officials reported the highest number of new cases in the county to date on Friday with 3,187 new cases. On Thursday, they reported 2,643 new cases, and Saturday they reported 1,402, but noted one of the larger labs did not report to the county that day. Ferrer reported 1,584 new cases for Sunday.
The county also reported that 30 more people died of COVID-19 over the weekend, but noted this in an undercount because some reported deaths are being verified. On Monday, they reported 48 additional deaths.
Ferrer noted the percentage of people staying home except for essential activities and exercise is dropping.
During the holiday weekend, health officials said they were increasingly concerned about people gathering for parties or family gatherings with people outside their own households, threatening to lead to even more infections.
“We’re really at a pivotal point,” Ferrer said. “If we can’t find away collectively to sort of minimize our exposure to multiple different family units, multiple different units of people that we’re now back at work with, we will continue to see the rise in cases. We’ve got to do something right now to sort of get us back to a more level ground.”
Questioned again about why beaches are closed to prevent gatherings but nothing was done to prevent massive protests against police brutality, Ferrer stressed that the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution guarantees the right to protest.
Health officials have not been able to trace any specific outbreaks of the virus to the protests of the past month, primarily due to the difficulty in tracing exact exposure sources for people who may have contracted the illness in a variety of locations. But Ferrer noted she has consistently stated that the protests were a likely source of coronavirus transmission, as is any location where large numbers of people are gathered for long periods of time without face coverings or social distancing.
City News Service contributed to this report.
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