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LA's Troubling Rise In Kids Getting COVID

An image of a slideshow showing the rising number of COVID-19 cases in children in L.A. County.
(Courtesy of L.A. County Dept. of Public Health)
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Young adults are continuing to drive L.A. County’s surge in COVID cases, but children who aren’t old enough to be vaccinated are increasingly testing positive.

It's a troubling trend that mirrors what's happening around the country.

“While rates are relatively low across the board, all [pediatric] age groups experienced five- to six-fold increases in case rates between the end of June and the beginning of July,” said county health director Barbara Ferrer at her weekly press conference on Thursday.

(Courtesy L.A. County Dept. Public Health)
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Hospitalizations among children increased four-fold in that time period, though Ferrer credited vaccinated children 12 and up for blunting that rise.

The county on Thursday reported the second-highest daily number of new COVID-19 cases — 3,672 — since early February of this year, but Ferrer was optimistic that the county’s cases may have hit a plateau.

Ferrer said the county’s indoor mask mandate, which was reinstated two weeks ago, aided in a slight decrease in this week’s overall case rate of 21 cases per 100,000 people.

“This does suggest to us that our rise in cases may be leveling out. I know for sure it contributed, just because the data is really conclusive on the importance of masking indoors and how that does, in fact, reduce transmission,” she said.

Ferrer cautioned that total daily cases in the county will likely continue to rise in the near term because more people will be tested. Schools and universities are starting up and more companies are requiring proof of vaccination or frequent negative tests, so the number of tests being processed is rising rapidly.

On Thursday, L.A. County Board of Supervisors Chair Hilda Solis issued an executive order that mandates that all county employees be vaccinated by Oct. 1.

“We’re going to see more cases. In the past two weeks, we’ve gone from about 40,000-45,000 tests a day to 60,000-65,000 cases,” Ferrer said, also noting that the test positivity has come down.

What questions do you have about the pandemic and health care?
Jackie Fortiér helps Southern Californians understand the pandemic by identifying what's working and what's not in our health response.