LOS ANGELES (CNS) – On the heels of two highly publicized parties, one of which ended in a fatal shooting, Los Angeles County’s public health director warned again Wednesday, August 5, that such gatherings are forbidden under coronavirus-prevention orders, and attending them endangers the public at large.                                                                                                    

Barbara Ferrer, director of the county Department of Public Health, said infection rates among residents aged 30 to 49 nearly tripled between June and late July, and rates among those 18-29 quadrupled.

“These two age groups continue to drive new infections here in the county,’’ Ferrer said.

She said people in the 18-29 age group now represent twice the percentage of hospitalized COVID-19 patients in the county than they did in April, matching the rate of people aged 80 and over. People aged 30-49 now represent 25% of all hospitalized virus patients.

She said the county has reported hundreds of deaths among younger age groups, but noted that younger people who become infected but don’t become severely ill can still pass the virus to older residents who might require hospitalization or even die.

Without specifically referencing any particular gathering, Ferrer acknowledged recent widely publicized parties that made headlines, calling such massive collections of people a “bad idea’’ and a breeding ground for the virus among younger residents who can in turn infect older and more vulnerable residents. On Friday night, dozens of people attended a private party at a bar in Hollywood, and earlier this week, hundreds of people attended a house party just outside Beverly Hills that ended in a fatal shooting.

“Gatherings are simply not allowed at this point under the health officer order,’’ Ferrer said. 

“Because they create a lot of risk for transmission at activities that really are not essential. These parties and gatherings with people not in your household hurt all of us as we try to reduce our case rates so we can get our children back to school and get other adults back to their jobs. We ask that everyone make good decisions. Don’t host large parties and don’t attend a party if you’re invited. It isn’t worth the risk you run and it certainly isn’t worth the risk you’re creating for our collective recovery journey.’’

She expressed frustration at people who would host or attend a party.

“I do think an equally important question to ask is why so many people are willing to put our entire community at risk during this unprecedented pandemic,’’ she said.

Driving home the point that COVID-19 can affect anyone, regardless of age, Ferrer pointed to a recently documented outbreak along USC’s fraternity row that has so far resulted in 45 positive cases of the virus. She said a separate smaller outbreak occurred among another group of USC students who were studying and socializing together. She also said at least eight football players at UCLA have tested positive.