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Younger Angelenos Driving New LA County COVID-19 Cases

LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) — The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health Monday again cautioned residents against attending large and small gatherings — whether held outdoors or indoors.

People wearing masks walk on a street in downtown Los Angeles, California, October 2, 2020, amid the coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic. (Photo by Robyn Beck / AFP) (Photo by ROBYN BECK/AFP via Getty Images)

According to Dr. Barbara Ferrer, county public health director, people between the ages of 18 and 49 now account for 58% of all newly confirmed coronavirus cases in the county, with those between the ages of 12 and 50 accounting for 68% of all new infections.

She also noted an increase in the percentage of younger COVID-19 patients hospitalized. In mid-May, people ages 18-29 made up 5% of hospitalized virus patients. Now they account for 10%, she said.

"As you can see, people of all ages are at risk of being infected with COVID-19, and it's our younger groups that are keeping our case counts high," Ferrer said. "But we also see that people of all ages can unfortunately become tragically ill and some people will pass away. So it's important that people of all ages understand and use every tool we have to protect themselves and each other from transmission of this virus."

Ferrer pointed specifically to gatherings — from small events with friends and family to large-scale protests and sports victory celebrations — as a major contributor to the virus' continued spread.

"I also think there's a false sense of security we have when we're with people we know," she said. "And time and time and time again that is not accurate and oftentimes has a devastating consequences when some people get sick and some of those people end up having to be hospitalized."

And despite the county's relaxing of its local health order to allow outdoor gatherings with three or fewer households, Ferrer said the change was not an encouragement to attend them.

"They're pretty prescribed — they need to be outside; everyone needs to be wearing a face covering; people need to be six feet apart," Ferrer said. "And that's just because we cannot afford to have more cases here in L.A. County."

The concern over gatherings grows as fall approaches, bringing with it the Thanksgiving holiday and cooler weather that could force people indoors.

"We're increasingly becoming aware of how much easier it is to transmit this virus indoors, particularly in a setting like Thanksgiving where people are going to spend a lot of time eating and drinking, which means you're not going to necessarily keep that face covering on yourself and your guests won't be able to do that," Ferrer said.

Ferrer said all indoor celebrations should be limited to one household to prevent further spread of the virus.

The county Monday reported 923 newly confirmed cases and one additional fatality, bringing countywide totals to 289,366 cases and 6,877 deaths.

There were 722 people hospitalized due to the virus, down from 752 on Sunday.

(© Copyright 2020 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. City News Service contributed to this report.)

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