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L.A. County/USC Study Preliminary Results Point to Possible 300,000 With COVID-19

A strip tests positive for COVID-19 antibodies at L.A. County Department of Public Health, USC Price School for Public Policy mobile testing sites, April 10 and 11, via LACDPH.


Alhambra , CA

Los Angeles County’s Department of Public Health announced a catch-up on a backlog of tests and preliminary results from its “community prevalence study,” conducted with USC, of antibody tests.

The just concluded weekend was the deadliest one to date, with 105 deaths – 81 fatalities on Saturday and another 24 on Sunday. The Department of Public Health announced 17 deaths and 1,491 new cases in Monday.

The county caught up on some of the case reporting backlog from one testing lab, making 293 the daily update of cases and 1,198 of positive backlog.

The county did not clarify which lab, but did say it was from testing that occured between April 7 and 14, and said it is indicative of an increased capability in testing and highlights the necessity of labs’ abilities to report results quickly, presumably electronically.

Of the 17 deaths in the last 24 hours, one person was 18 to 40 and had no underlying health conditions, two were between 41 and 65 – one with underlying health conditions, and 13 were over the age of 65 ­– 11 with underlying health conditions, and one reported from Long Beach’s independent health department with no further information.

Institutional settings keep creeping up in relationship to the death count, now a factor in 39% of the total deaths to date. A total of 265 institutional facilities are under investigation, which is an additional 37 since Friday.

The county is setting up a dashboard site this week that will detail information like positive and suspected cases and deaths by institutional site.

For the bulk of Monday’s daily briefing, the Department of Public Health presented preliminary results from the random sampling antibody test being led by LACDPH Chief Science Officer Dr. Paul Simon and the University of Southern California’s Dr. Neeraj Sood, Professor and Senior Fellow at USC’s Price School for Public Policy and Schaeffer Center for Health Policy and Economics.

The serology test shows if a person has antibodies that would indicate that they have been infected with COVID-19 at some point. The study does not, however, tell if a person is currently suffering from the illness.

The L.A. County-USC partnership thus far ­– which has only done one round of sampling – suggests that COVID-19 cases in the county are much higher than previously reported by LACDPH when the testing took place, from April 10 to 14.

If a person had COVID-19 antibodies on April 10, researchers are saying the person was infected prior to April 9.

The random sample selected for testing is intended to mimic the county’s demographics in age, race and gender, and be applied to the total population.

The study showed that out of the 863 people tested, 4.1% presented antibodies as of April 9. The range, taking into account the reliability of the test, is 2.8% to 5.8%.

When a 4.1% positivity rate is applied to the 8 million adults of Los Angeles County, that means 320,000 L.A. adults were infected by April 9, indicating many more infections with little to no symptoms, and many who never sought treatment nor testing.

On April 9, 7,955 confirmed infections were reported by the county, which is about 312,000 fewer people than the possible infections that these preliminary results suggest.

Sood said the study suggests the infection rate could be 40 times higher than currently known. He said the numbers indicate it is early in the epidemic, and many more have the potential to become infected. As infections rise, hospitalizations and deaths rise, and Sood underscored the importance of monitoring the pandemic.

In a webchat later Monday for media, Sood said there seems to be some difference by gender or race and ethnicity but it’s too early to have a clear picture along the demographic lines. Researchers have to look at county-wide geographic and socioeconomic factors to better understand how COVID-19 affects race, age and gender. As they continue to collect data that picture will change and become clearer.

With all statistics there is some imprecision, but the bottom line is that as of April 9, a preliminary number is that 4.1% of adults – 320,000 adults – in L.A. County have been positive, Sood said.

The Director of the L.A. County Department of Public Health Barbara Ferrer reminded those watching the midday press briefing, just because a person tests positive for the virus or the presence of antibodies does not mean they’re immune from contracting the virus again, and should not assume they are safe from reinfection.

She stated the large number of possible infected people reinforces the need for observing the physical distancing orders.

The serology “community prevalence study” series will randomly invite a different 1,000 residents to be tested for the presence of COVID-19 antibodies, every two to three weeks throughout the coming months, to determine the scope and spread of the pandemic.

Here are some of the case numbers presented by the L.A. County Health Department press release:

  • In the last 24 hours: 17 deaths; 1,491 cases (239 in 24 hours + 1,198 backlog)
  • Total deaths: 617 (including Pasadena’s 20 deaths)
  • Total cases: 13,816

The breakdown by community, plus Health Department confirmed institutional settings with one or more cases:

  • Alhambra: 47
    • Alhambra Healthcare & Wellness Centre, LP
  • Arcadia: 30
    • Santa Anita Convalescent Hospital
  • Boyle Heights: 91
  • El Monte: 61
    • Mayflower Care Center
  • El Sereno: 56
    • Huntington Healthcare Center
  • Unincorporated East L.A.: 166
    • Buena Ventura Care Center
  • Highland Park: 51
    • Highland Park Skilled Nursing and Wellness Center
  • Lincoln Heights: 30
    • Kei-Ai Los Angeles Healthcare Center
  • Montebello: 80
  • Monterey Park: 43
    • DaVita Garfield Hemodialysis Center
  • Pasadena: 215 (separate health department reported 249 with 25 deaths)
    • Brighton Care Center
    • Californian Pasadena Convalescent Hospital (The Californian)
    • Camellia Gardens
    • Fair Oaks Regency Park
    • Foothill Heights Care Center
    • Garfield Care Center (Listed 4/14; removed 4/17)
    • GEM Transitional Care Center
    • Golden Cross Healthcare
    • Huntington Post Acute (Pasadena Meadows)
    • Jasmine Terrace
    • Legacy Care Center (Listed 4/14; removed 4/15)
    • Pasadena Grove Health Center
    • Rose Garden
    • St. Vincent’s
  • Rosemead: 17
  • San Gabriel: 19
  • Unincorporated Northeast San Gabriel: 7
  • Unincorporated South San Gabriel: 7
  • San Marino: 8
  • South El Monte: 5
  • South Pasadena: 30
    • South Pasadena Care Center
  • Temple City: 24

Numbers are suppressed in communities with less than 25,000 residents, but with 1-4 confirmed cases:

  • Unincorporated Arcadia
  • Unincorporated South El Monte
  • University Hills

Want to help?

Need help?

Los Angeles County Department of Public Health page.

For all of the reporting from the Alhambra Source, go to our Stay Healthy page.

The Los Angeles County COVID-19 press briefing is streamed online at 1 p.m. Monday through Friday, on the L.A. County Facebook, Twitter and YouTube accounts.

The Alhambra Source encourages comment on our stories. However, we do not vet comments for accuracy or endorse links to posts in the comment section. The thoughts and opinions expressed belong solely to the author of the comment.

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