Support for LAist comes from
True LA stories, powered by you
Stay Connected

Share This

News

Study: Roughly 4% Of LA County Adults Have Had Coronavirus

5e9f8e8bf4671c00088b3f9d-eight.jpg
Medical student volunteers from Keck School of Medicine of USC administer antibody tests to randomly selected participants as a part of the USC-L.A. County COVID-19 Study. (Kit Karzen)
LAist relies on reader support, not paywalls.
Freely accessible local news is vital. Please power our reporters and help keep us independent with a donation today.

Our news is free on LAist. To make sure you get our coverage: Sign up for our daily coronavirus newsletter. To support our non-profit public service journalism: Donate Now.

A study that tested 863 adults for antibodies to COVID-19 suggests it's infected more people in L.A. County than the official numbers show.

With the preliminary results released today, researchers estimate that somewhere between 220,000 and 440,000 Angelenos have already been infected. That's a lot more than the 13,816 cases confirmed so far.

Support for LAist comes from

With the substantially higher estimate of cases, that suggests the mortality rate for the county is much lower than the current 4.4%, said L.A. County Public Health Director Dr. Barbara Ferrer. She pegged it at closer to .1% or .2%.

"I think if there is a part of this that's hopeful for us, it is that the mortality rate now has dropped a lot," she said.


icon

DON'T MISS ANY L.A. CORONAVIRUS NEWS
Get our daily newsletters for the latest on COVID-19 and other top local headlines.

Terms of Use and Privacy Policy

Support for LAist comes from

The study suggests the vast majority of people in the county have probably not been infected.

"What the findings show is that only 4% of our population has been infected," said USC's Dr. Neeraj Sood, the study's lead investigator. "Which means we are very early in the epidemic and many more people in L.A. County could potentially be infected."

Noting that the sample size for the study was relatively small, Ferrer provided some early estimates of who was most likely to have been infected. Men, for instance, had a higher prevalence of infection than women (6% for men vs. 2% for women). As for demographics, she said the breakdown for those who tested positive was:

  • 7% of African Americans
  • 6% of white residents
  • 4.2% of Asians
  • 2.5% of Latino/Latina residents

5e9f8f45f4671c00088b3fa2-eight.jpg
Medical student volunteers from Keck School of Medicine of USC administer antibody tests to randomly selected participants as a part of the USC-L.A. County COVID-19 Study. (Kit Karzen)
Support for LAist comes from

L.A. County is currently averaging about 50 COVID-19 deaths a day, according to the Department of Public Health's Chief Science Officer, Dr. Paul Simon. He noted that COVID-19 is currently killing more people in the county than any other cause, including coronary heart disease.

And while an estimated mortality rate of .1% or .2% would get COVID-19 closer to the season flu's rate, researchers cautioned that's not the whole picture.

"For the flu, maybe deaths are spread over six to eight months," said lead investigator Dr. Neeraj Sood, professor & senior fellow at USC's Price School for Public Policy. "But for COVID, [they] might be more concentrated over a span of two months or one month, which could overrun the health care system -- and that in turn could change the fatality rate."

Researchers hope to replicate the antibody study in the coming weeks.