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Los Angeles County public health authorities on Saturday reported 521 new cases of the coronavirus and 56 related deaths. They said young people continue to drive community transmission of the virus, while older people account for most of the fatalities.
Of the cases reported Saturday, 70% were people under 50, and of the deaths, 93% were people over 50, the county public health department said in a news release.
“Many younger people are out socializing with non-household members, raising concerns that asymptomatic young people are unknowingly helping to spread the virus to more vulnerable people,” Barbara Ferrer, the L.A. County health director, said in a statement. “Though we are making good progress in our vaccination efforts, we are entering a potentially perilous time if people let their guard down.”
California's initially sluggish vaccine rollout has been ramping up in recent days, although the state still lags behind many others in the percentage of residents inoculated, and local officials continue to report that demand far outstrips supply.
Meanwhile, more transmissible, potentially deadlier variants of the coronavirus continue to circulate. Experts are keeping a close eye on metrics to see if the variants are driving another wave of infections, as has been reported in Italy.
But case rates and hospitalizations in Southern California have continued to trend downward. There were 792 COVID-19 patients in L.A. County hospitals Friday, a decline of roughly 33% from two weeks before, when there were 1,176.
Orange County has reported a similar trend. The county Saturday recorded 118 new cases and 26 deaths. There were 197 COVID-19 patients in its hospitals Friday, a drop of nearly 39% from two weeks before.
Both Los Angeles and Orange counties recently moved into the less-restrictive red tier of the state’s reopening blueprint, meaning restaurants, gyms, movie theaters and museums were able to reopen for indoor operations with capacity limits, some schools were cleared to welcome back students in person, and people were allowed to resume gathering indoors with members of up to three other households, as long as they wear masks and socially distance.
Public health officials stress that although certain activities are allowed, it doesn’t mean they carry no risk, and it's still important to follow sanitary guidelines, including masking, distancing and frequent handwashing.
This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.