COVID-19 cases spike in LA as 15 kids sick with rare virus-related syndrome

Los Angeles (AFP) –


The number of COVID-19 hospitalizations in Los Angeles County were at their highest level at the weekend since the pandemic began, as 15 children were diagnosed with a rare and potentially deadly virus-related inflammatory syndrome.

The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health on Sunday listed 2,216 people in hospital, topping the previous record of 2,193 on July 15.

Of those currently hospitalized, 26 percent are in intensive care and 19 percent are on ventilators, officials said.

"We continue to reach concerning milestones and today we are seeing the highest number of COVID-19 hospitalizations," Barbara Ferrer, the county's public health director, said in a statement.

"Right now, young adults are being hospitalized at a rate not seen before," she added. "No matter how young you are, you are vulnerable to this virus."

Officials said that more than half of the 2,848 new cases of COVID-19 reported on Sunday concerned people less than 41 years old.

The spike in the number of cases comes as 15 children were identified last week with an inflammatory syndrome -- MISC-C -- linked to the virus.

The majority of the children -- 73 percent -- are Latino, the public health department said.

MIS-C is a condition where different body parts can become inflamed, including the heart, lungs, kidneys, brain, skin, eyes, or gastrointestinal organs. There have so far been six deaths related to the syndome nationwide, according to health officials.

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti reiterated on Sunday that the city was "on the brink" of reissuing a stay-at-home order because of the surge in the number of COVID-19 cases and implored the public to heed safety precautions such as wearing a mask and social distancing.

He also acknowledged that the state had lifted restrictions related to the virus too soon.

"I think a lot of people don't understand, mayors often have no control over what opens up and doesn't -- that's either at a state or county level, and I do agree that those things (reopening businesses) happened too quickly," Garcetti told CNN on Sunday.

"It's not just what's opened and closed, it's also about what we do individually," he added. "It's about the people who are getting together outside of their households.

"They might think because they got a test two weeks ago it's OK, but it's not."