According to a new public survey, the number of people in the county who had been infected with -19 during the epidemic is far greater than the number confirmed through standard testing. This is because mainly of the number of people who had never developed symptoms and who never received testing, or who couldn't access tests.
Results of antibody testing conducted on a control group then extrapolated across the entire population found that between May and June of last year, there were three times more adults infected with Covid-19 than the county previously reported based on confirmed test results. Among children, the number of infected children was even greater, suggesting that testing was confirmed.
"The study was back in late spring of 2021, when 30% of adults in L.A. County were infected and 37 percent of them had been infected," Ferrer said of the CalScope study.
The county said it only reported infections in 10% of adults and slightly under 10% of children during that same time period.
The major differences were reportedly caused by lack in the testing system. She noted that many people who had been infected with the virus never received the test because they never became sick or developed any symptoms. Sometimes, access to testing was also limited, preventing people from getting their infections confirmed.
Ferrer said the actual widespread use of indoor testing is also affecting the official case count, as those who test at home aren't required to provide their findings to the county.
Ferrer said the findings "can serve as an indication of the large number of cases that have gone unreported in the County of L.A.," and that they should be understandable. "This is important to understand because it gives us a sense of the true scope and effect of the epidemic."
Her remarks came as the county sees a steady rise in infections as fueled by the infectious BA.2 subvariant of the virus. Based on the most recent genetic testing on Covid case samples in the county, the subvariant is now believed to be responsible for 67 percent of all infections locally. Thats up from 47 percent a week ago and from 32 percent the week before that.
BA.2 is now identified as the county's predominant strain of the virus.
Ferrer claims that the county has reported an average of over 1,000 new cases per day in the past week, compared to 878 from the week prior.
Although cases have risen steadily, the county continues to not see an increase in hospitalizations or deaths, according to Ferrer, the result of increased vaccination rates or other levels of immunity, which can be triggered by severe illness.
She continues to warn that a Covid infection may have profound consequences, including death. She also said that while the county is seeing an increase in cases, it is not seeing "exponential growth."
"We're seeing some steady, small increases every day in cases," she said. "At some point this will become more concerning if it does level off, and our hope is that it does level off. In these higher-risk situations, you should get tested. Be wise to try to avoid either a re-infection or a fresh infection."
On Thursday, 1,214 new infections were reported, bringing the total total of 2,849,185 people to the country. Another 12 confirmed deaths were also reported, raising the total number of deaths to 31,839.
As of Thursday, the average daily rate of individuals testing positive for the virus slowed to 1.7 percent, despite the highest level reported last week, but still in numbers.
According to state statistics, there were 239 Covid-positive patients in county hospitals on Thursday, down from 256 on Wednesday. Of those patients, 32 were being treated in intensive care, down from 35 a day earlier.
The City News Service has contributed to this report.