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Reporting backlog continues to affect L.A. County COVID-19 case numbers

Richard Hernandes, Jazmin Domingo, his brothers Seth Patlan, 5, and Joseph Hamassian in Huntington Beach on Aug. 12.
The scene Wednesday on Main Street in Huntington Beach.
(Genaro Molina / Los Angeles Times)

Los Angeles County public health officials on Sunday reported 1,192 new cases of COVID-19 and nine related deaths but said both numbers were artificially low because of a weekend reporting lag.

L.A. County has reported totals of more than 222,000 cases and more than 5,240 deaths.

The latest case numbers did not include a pending backlog of lab reports the county has been expecting the state to send via its electronic reporting system for more than a week. The backlog was generated by a series of data failures that led to hundreds of thousands of test results not being uploaded into the system. It’s unclear how many of the unreported results were from L.A. County and whether they will change the picture of how the virus is continuing to spread here. Numbers of deaths and hospitalizations were not affected by the reporting issue, officials said.

There were 1,341 confirmed COVID-19 patients in L.A. County hospitals as of Saturday, with about 32% in intensive care, according to the state. In mid-July, there were about 2,200 patients.

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Officials continued to warn people to take proper precautions, especially as a heat wave gripped the region.

“Because there are so many people infected with COVID-19 and spreading the virus who have no symptoms, and we ourselves could be infected and unknowingly spreading the virus, each of us needs to make sure we do everything we can to avoid being close to others not in our household,” Barbara Ferrer, the county health director, said in a statement. “With the warm weather, this can be challenging as we seek to find places to go that offer relief from the heat.”

Still, she said, officials continue to ask that people stay home as much as possible and leave only to perform essential activities such as working and getting groceries and medicines.

“If you do go to the beach or the park, please remember to keep at least six feet of distance from those you don’t live with, wear face coverings at all times when out of the home, avoid crowded places and wash your hands frequently,” she said. “We need to work together to lower our case rate so we can get our children back to school and more people back to work.”

Meanwhile, Orange County reported 342 new cases of COVID-19 and one death Sunday, bringing its total to 43,709 cases and 810 deaths.

Hospitalizations continued to decline there, too, with 422 confirmed patients as of Saturday, compared with 554 two Saturdays ago.


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