Los Angeles County reported 3,628 newly confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 53 additional deaths Saturday, bringing the county's totals to 172,325 cases and 4,351 fatalities.
Officials said the higher totals -- coming after 1,949 new cases were reported Friday and 2,014 on Thursday -- were due in part to a resolution in California's electronic lab system and inclusion of backlogged positive results.
Younger adults still make up the majority of new positive cases, with 76% of the cases announced Saturday occurring in people under 50 years old, and 54% of those among people under the age of 30, according to the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health.
The confirmed number of people hospitalized with the virus was 2,016, with 30% of those in intensive care. But officials said there are a total of 2,598 confirmed and suspect cases currently hospitalized, and 15% of these people are on ventilators.
The hospitalization data is incomplete due to changes in reporting requirements from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
"To the families that are grieving the loss of a loved one to COVID-19, we send you our deepest sympathies and prayers to you every day. We're also thinking of the many people who are hospitalized, sick and recovering from this virus," said Barbara Ferrer, the county's public health director.
"I know these are frustrating times and that we want life to return to normal. ... Unfortunately, we just are not at a point where those activities are safe. We need to commit to the behaviors that we know will reduce our infection rate and slow the spread of the virus. In order to stay safe, we need to continue wearing face coverings, avoiding gatherings with people we don't live with, we need to wash our hands frequently, and keep physical distance from others. These are effective tools, that when used consistently, reduce transmission of the virus and save lives."
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Testing results were available for 1,621,670 individuals, with 10% of all people testing positive.
Hospitalizations have been an area of concern in recent weeks, with the number topping 2,200 in Los Angeles County for five consecutive days this week, the highest levels of the pandemic.
Health officials did note that the number of new hospitalizations in LA County appeared to be leveling off, and possibly even decreasing, following a precipitous climb in mid-July.
The county's health officer, Dr. Muntu Davis, told reporters Thursday that those figures -- along with the seven-day average daily testing positivity rate settling back to about 8.5% -- were indications the county may be starting to slow the virus.
"I hope this week marks a turning point, and that we'll start to see the results of our collective actions to slow the spread of COVID-19,'' Davis said.
But despite those positive indicators, Davis and Ferrer stressed that the area is a long way from conquering the virus and being able to lift health restrictions.
Two Los Angeles-area hospitals got some additional staffing help Friday courtesy of the U.S. Air Force, which deployed medical teams across the state, including one at Los Angeles County-USC Medical Center and another at Harbor-UCLA Medical Center.
Dr. Mark Ghaly, California Health and Human Services secretary, said a total of eight teams were deployed across the state.
"We looked across the state,'' Ghaly said. "L.A. County -- with big hospitals, important centers where we see disease transmission high, concern to make sure the hospitals in that important center are supported -- received two out of eight of the teams. Sort of a proportionate share, if you will, across the state. But remember some of the other teams went to the northern parts, even rural parts of the state, to make sure that the hospitals are supported.
"We'll continue to work with our federal partners to ensure that staff can be moved to strategic places throughout the state when necessary,'' he said.
Ghaly said the goal is to ensure ``patients get the level of care that they need and that staffing doesn't become the issue around delivering high-quality care around the state.''