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Missing Data And Party People Are Hindering LA County's Efforts To Slow The Spread Of COVID-19

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Los Angeles County is quickly approaching 200,000 coronavirus cases and 5,000 related deaths.

County officials reported 2,347 new confirmed cases today, bringing the total to at least 197,912 cases countywide — though Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer noted that the figure is an undercount. (More on that later.)

In total, 8,362 cases have been reported in Long Beach and 2,023 in Pasadena (those two cities operate their own health departments).

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Ferrer also reported 68 new deaths of COVID-19 patients. The total number of deaths countywide now stands at 4,825 people.

So far, 92% of those who have died had underlying health conditions, Ferrer said.


One issue that’s complicating and hindering health officials’ ability to track and reduce the spread of COVID-19: “missing data” at the state level, Ferrer said, which has led to an undercount in the number of confirmed cases.

County health officials aren't sure how much of an undercount there is, but it's been a problem for "possibly the last two weeks," she said.

"We are creating a redundant system here in the county, so that hopefully by the end of the week we can have an accurate count of new cases for L.A. County," Ferrer explained.

Reporting on hospitalizations and deaths have not been affected, she added.


Ferrer also took time to reflect on another danger: younger county residents who are ignoring health safety guidelines by attending gatherings or large parties.

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"Younger" is used liberally here; it applies to anyone ages 18 to 50, Ferrer said. She explained why this is "such a bad idea":

"... they create a lot of risk for transmission activities that really are not essential — and these parties and gatherings with people not in your household hurt all of us as we try to reduce our case rates, so we can get our children back to school and get other adults, back to their jobs. We ask that everyone make good decisions. Don't host large parties and don't attend a party if you're invited. It isn't worth the risk you run, and it certainly isn't worth the risk you're creating for our collective recovery journey."


County health officials have been responding to thousands of non-compliance complaints each week.

Given recent headline-making parties that police did not shut down, several reporters asked Ferrer if she thinks the county needs to do more when it comes to enforcing the health officer order.

She drew a distinction between compliance and enforcement, arguing: "We will not be able to arrest our way out of the pandemic."

"There is no single enforcement strategy that's going to get us to the place where we're going to be able to shut down activities that people continue to do in defiance of what I think at this point — forget about the [heath officer] order — what I think is logical and sensible. You're putting yourself and other people at grave risk. When you're going to that party, we have a lot of community transmission."


Younger people continue to represent the majority of new cases in L.A. County.

According to public health data, adults ages 30-to-48 have the highest case rate among all age groups in the county, Ferrer reported. And from June 9 through the end of July, the number of cases among adults age 18-to-29 quadrupled, she said.

Hospitalizations among younger people are also up, though older residents continue to face the greatest risk of dying from COVID-19. But, Ferrer warned:

"No matter how young you are, you are at risk for death from COVID-19 ... Although you as an individual — particularly a younger adult — may not suffer these devastating consequences from COVID-19, you could infect someone you love. And that could be a relative or friend, and you could infect someone in your community who could get very sick and, unfortunately, pass away."

This is a developing story; check back for updates.

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