Los Angeles County reported 4,825 new coronavirus cases and 91 deaths Wednesday — a new daily record for fatalities.
The numbers, which were affected in part by a backlog of cases and deaths being reported from last Thursday through Sunday, bring the county's total number of infections to more than 180,000 and the death toll to more than 4,500. Three of the newly reported deaths were among people between the ages of 18 and 29. Two of those people had underlying health conditions. That age group accounts for 0.6% of the county's total deaths.
Health officials said that roughly 8% of all cases are among children under the age of 18. No child has died from the virus, but a total of 16 children have developed MIS-C (multisystem inflammatory syndrome), also known as PIMS (pediatric inflammatory multisystem syndrome) — a disease of inflammation and swelling of the blood vessels, which the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has reported may be linked to the novel coronavirus. Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer reported one more case of the disease Wednesday.
Officials also reported some bright spots: the seven-day average rate for positive infection held between 8.3% and 8.5% for the last week. That number is higher than the state's safety threshold of 8%, but lower than what the county reported earlier in July. The county has also seen a decline in hospitalizations. There are currently 2,045 hospitalized patients, with 28% in intensive care. That number reflects activity from two to three weeks ago.
Officials also reported that the projected transmission rate of the virus is now less than one. That means that, on average, each infected person is infecting less than one other person. That rate had spiked to more than three in June.
But amid signs of progress, officials warned that an ongoing commitment to maintain social distancing practices is key to ensuring the county does not reverse course.
"I know we’re all eager and anxious to see our lives return to normal," Ferrer said. "We do have the tools at hand to make this a reality in the future. But we need compliance with our directives."
Ultimately, it's people's social behaviors and newly reissued shutdowns that led to a decline in some numbers, officials said. But more cases and deaths continue to be reported each day.
"When we let our guard down, the virus spreads," Health Services Director Dr. Christina Ghaly said.
COVID-19 is on track to be the second-leading cause of death in the county, Supervisor Hilda Solis said.
The state recorded its highest single-day count for deaths on Tuesday, following weeks of spikes in case count and hospitalization that have been linked to private gatherings, outbreaks at workplaces and activity over the Fourth of July weekend.
Los Angeles County is one of the more than 30 counties the state is monitoring for surges in cases and hospitalizations. The county accounts for the bulk of the state’s infections, which total more than 473,000, and 8,724 deaths.
The county said that it was expanding testing, while continuing to prioritize the most vulnerable. New sites will open in Azusa, Compton, Florence-Graham and the Westlake area near Macarthur Park.