Air Quality Skewing COVID-19 Testing Results for LA County

Smoke advisory in effect through Wednesday

By Sam Catanzaro

While COVID-19 cases continue to decrease in Los Angeles County, health officials say poor air quality is skewing data due to reduced testing.

On Tuesday, the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health (Public Health) confirmed 47 new deaths and 474 new cases of confirmed COVID-19.

“The lower number of new cases, in part, reflect reduced testing due to wildfire smoke and recent extreme weather,” Public Health said.

According to the South Coast Air Quality Management District, smoke from wildfires burning in the region has caused unhealthy air quality across Los Angeles County, including coastal regions. The agency has implemented a smoke advisory in effect through Wednesday, September 16.

“It is difficult to tell where smoke, ash or soot from a fire will go, or how winds will affect the level of these particles in the air, so we ask everyone to remember that smoke and ash can be harmful to health, even for people who are healthy,” said Dr. Muntu Davis, Health Officer for Los Angeles County.

According to Public Health, precautions individuals should take include avoiding unnecessary outdoor exposure and limiting physical exertion (whether indoor or outdoor), such as exercise.

As of Tuesday, Public Health has identified 255,049 positive cases of COVID-19 across all areas of L.A. County, and a total of 6,273 deaths.

Of the 47 new deaths reported Tuesday, one person who died was between the ages of 18 and 29 years old.

“Tragically, we are reporting another death in person who was under 29 years old. Younger people not only are the majority of individuals infected and infecting others, but also can experience devasting consequences themselves. Nearly 450 COVID-19 deaths have occurred among individuals under the age of 50 years old,” said Barbara Ferrer, Director of Public Health. “It is important for everyone, including younger residents to take precautions every time they leave their homes and to get tested if they have been exposed to the virus.”

Testing results are available for more than 2,465,000 individuals with 10% of all people testing positive.

Currently, there are 772 confirmed cases currently hospitalized and 33 percent of these people are confirmed cases in the ICU.

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