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Los Angeles County coronavirus hospitalizations rise to highest level of the pandemic

LOS ANGELES – Hospitalizations in Los Angeles County due to COVID-19 were at their highest level of the pandemic — 2,232, health officials said Monday.

This is the fourth day in the past week that the county reported its highest number of individuals hospitalized with the virus since the beginning of the pandemic, according to county Public Health Director, Dr. Barbara Ferrer.

Of those currently hospitalized, 26% are in the intensive care unit and 19% are on ventilators, Ferrer said. 

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The county on Monday reported another 3,160 coronavirus cases and 9 additional deaths, bringing the county’s totals to 159,045 cases and 4,104 deaths. 

Ferrer once again noted that the number of deaths reported on Monday’s tends to be lower due to a lag in reporting from hospitals over the weekend.

Some officials have attributed the rise in overall cases to increases in testing, but county officials said repeatedly that the metrics clearly demonstrate an increase in community spread of COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus.

A rare but serious and potentially deadly inflammatory syndrome believed to be associated with the coronavirus has now been identified in 15 children in Los Angeles County, public health officials said Friday. Of the children, 73% were Latino, representing a disproportionate burden for the ethnic group. Latino residents are the largest ethnic group in L.A. County, making up about half of the county’s residents.

Multi-system inflammatory syndrome in children, or MIS-C, can cause different parts of the body to become inflamed, such as the heart, lungs, kidneys, brain, skin, eyes or gastrointestinal organs, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Symptoms include fever, pain in the abdomen, vomiting, diarrhea, neck pain, rash, bloodshot eyes and exhaustion.

The syndrome has also been called pediatric inflammatory multisystem syndrome, or PIMS.

Most of the children developed MIS-C about two to four weeks after being infected with the coronavirus that causes COVID-19, the CDC says. No one who has experienced the syndrome has died in L.A. County. But the syndrome is potentially deadly.

Last week, the state health department released a four-tier priority system for COVID-19 testing. Those hospitalized with COVID-19 symptoms top the list along with “close contacts” of those with confirmed infections.

RELATED: Testing guidelines revamped in California as virus surges

Next in line are other people with symptoms and those living in high-risk facilities such as nursing homes, prisons and homeless shelters and health care and emergency service workers.

After that, the non-binding guidelines recommend testing for a wide variety of employees who have “frequent interactions with the public,” such as employees in retail stores, manufacturing, restaurants, markets and convenience stores; teachers; agricultural jobs, including food processing plants and slaughterhouses; and public transport, including airports and rail services.

The county modified its health officer order last week to align with Gov. Gavin Newsom’s rollback on California’s reopening plan.

RELATED: Gov. Newsom calls for immediate re-closure of additional businesses in most of California

The order required the closure of the following sectors for all indoor operations at gyms and fitness centers, places of worship, indoor protests, offices for non-critical infrastructure sectors, personal care services, hair salons and barbershops as well as indoor malls.

However, on Monday, Newsom said that salons, barbershops and nail salons can now operate outside. The governor said such plans have been in the works for some time, but figuring out the logistics was more complex than other outdoor business operations because of the use of chemicals in some beauty services, like perms.

RELATED: Gov. Newsom says California hair and nail salons are allowed to operate outside

Bars, indoor dining at restaurants, indoor museums, indoor operations at zoos and aquariums, and cardrooms and satellite wagering facilities remain closed and all events and gatherings remain prohibited.

CDC expands list of high-risk conditions for COVID-19 complications

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention made revisions to its list of underlying medical conditions that put people at a higher risk of severe complications from the novel coronavirus.

Recently, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention expanded the list of symptoms of the virus. Congestion or runny nose, nausea, and diarrhea were added, joining the federal agency’s list that already included fever or chills, cough, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, fatigue, muscle or body aches, headache, new loss of taste or smell and sore throat.

RELATED: CDC adds another 3 new coronavirus symptoms to the list

Anyone who experiences these symptoms should call their healthcare provider or local public health department first before seeking medical care so that appropriate precautions can be taken.

On June 18, the California Department of Public Health issued new guidelines mandating face coverings in most situations while indoors, but also outside when a person cannot maintain six feet of social distance.

RELATED: California governor orders people to wear masks in most indoor spaces

There are exemptions that include children age two and younger because of the risk of suffocation, and for people with a variety of medical or psychological issues that make mask-wearing a hazard.

The use of face coverings is believed to help slow the spread of the virus and help people who may have the virus, without knowing it, from transmitting it to others.

The face coverings can be made at home from common materials at low cost, and the CDC has instructions on how to make them listed on its website. 

Public Health continues to remind the public that while a majority of those who have died from COVID-19 in the county had underlying health conditions, not everyone does. Residents are urged to continue to take the necessary precautions in order to protect themselves from the virus.

Why social distancing can save lives amid COVID-19 pandemic

In LA County, approximately 92% of all residents who died from the virus had underlying health conditions. Ferrer said this emphasizes the county’s need to protect those with underlying health conditions and urges those residents to stay at home as much as possible.

She said this includes, but is not limited to, individuals with asthma, those who have had cancer, anyone with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and anyone who is immune-compromised.

“If you’re part of one of these groups, you need to take every precaution imaginable to protect yourself from COVID-19,” said Ferrer.

Health officials say that social distancing remains our best defense against the virus, and all residents are instructed to abide by current measures in place across the state. Social distancing is not only about preventing the illness itself, but rather, slowing the rate at which people get sick. 

RELATED: Stay up to date on all coronavirus-related information 

The county’s health department says that because of the COVID-19 pandemic and the risk of widespread transmission, everyone should always wear a face-covering securely over their nose and mouth and keep six feet apart from others not in their household when out and about.

Health officials say coronavirus infections are being spread by people who have no clear symptoms. In early April, the CDC changed how it was defining risk of infection for Americans, saying anyone may be a considered a carrier, whether they have symptoms or not.

RELATED: Asymptomatic coronavirus cases appear to be on the rise in China, report says

Public Health says that the best protection against COVID-19 is to wash your hands frequently, avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands, self-isolate if you are sick, practice physical distancing and wear a clean face covering when in contact with others from outside your household.

Click here for a list of locations of confirmed coronavirus cases in Los Angeles County.

RELATED: CoronavirusNOW.com, FOX launches national hub for COVID-19 news and updates. 

CNS contributed to this report.

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