Coronavirus lab testing

Microbiologist extracts COVID-19 genetic material from patient samples in the Public Health Laboratory. The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health conducts Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) test for COVID-19 on March 19, 2020. 

With younger residents representing a growing percentage of new infections, Los Angeles County health officials today reported more than 2,700 new coronavirus cases, along with another 50 deaths.

The number of people hospitalized remained elevated at 2,218, down from 2,232 on Monday but still among the highest numbers of the pandemic, according to the county Department of Public Health. The number of hospitalizations has topped 2,200 for three straight days.

The county reported 50 deaths from the virus today, although one of those fatalities was reported Monday afternoon by health officials in Long Beach. Long Beach reported one additional death today. The new fatalities lifted the countywide total to 4,155.

County public health officials also announced 2,741 new cases of the coronavirus, while Long Beach added 321 cases and Pasadena health officials announced 31 more. The new cases increased the countywide total since the start of the pandemic to 162,025.

Of the cases confirmed today by the county Department of Public Health, 57% were people under 41 years old, continuing the trend of younger people testing positive for the virus. Cases have generally been trending younger since the county began lifting health restrictions, allowing the reopening of restaurants and -- at least temporarily -- bars, which have since closed again.

"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," county public health director Barbara Ferrer said in a statement. "People over the age of 65 years old account for 11% of all cases but account for nearly 75% of all deaths."

County Supervisor Kathryn Barger noted Monday that the current spate of cases appears to be the result of widespread gatherings over the Fourth of July weekend. Since the virus can have a two-week incubation period, newly reported cases generally reflect exposures that occurred around 14 days ago.

The overall rate of people testing positive for the virus was at 9.6% as of today. That figure had been hovering around 9% for most of the pandemic, but has inched upward in recent weeks.

Local authorities, along with Gov. Gavin Newsom, have practically been pleading with residents in recent weeks to take precautions against the spread of the virus, including staying home whenever possible, practicing social distancing and wearing face coverings. They have warned that if the surge of cases does not slow, it could lead to a return to stricter stay-at-home orders and renewed business closures.

Ferrer said Monday that the county is stepping up its contact-tracing efforts in hopes of containing the spread by identifying people who may have been exposed to the virus by confirmed patients.

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