LA County reports increase in children diagnosed with rare inflammatory condition linked to COVID-19

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Los Angeles County health officials warned again Friday that the coronavirus can infect children as easily as it can adults, while also reporting three additional local cases of a pediatric inflammatory syndrome linked to COVID-19 infections.

"Over 21,000 COVID-19 cases have occurred in children aged 0 to 17 years old," county public health director Barbara Ferrer said in a statement. "COVID-19 spreads among children the same way it spreads among adults -- exposure to symptomatic or asymptomatic people infected with the virus."

RELATED: COVID-19 and multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children: What parents need to know

"As we look at ways to safely offer opportunities for children to be supported in their learning, we must do so taking every precaution to limit exposures and spread of COVID-19," she said. "That is why we ask that every operator of child care, day care, day camps, pods and recreational programming implements all the mandatory infection control and physical distancing directives attached to the county health officer order."

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The county Department of Public Health on Friday also confirmed another three local cases of multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children, or MIS-C, bringing the total to 28. The syndrome affects primarily children, but can be found in people up to age 20, resulting in inflammation of body parts including the heart, lungs, kidneys, brain, skin eyes and gastrointestinal organs, potentially having life-long health impacts.

There have not been any deaths from the syndrome reported in the county.

RELATED: 4 children in LA County diagnosed with rare inflammatory condition linked with COVID-19

County health officials confirmed another 31 coronavirus deaths Friday, while officials in Long Beach announced three additional fatalities. The countywide number of deaths since the start of the pandemic stood at 5,735 as of Friday.

The county announced another 1,509 confirmed cases, while Long Beach reported 79 new cases and Pasadena added 14. The new cases lifted the countywide cumulative total to 238,551.

The number of people hospitalized as of Friday was 1,168, the same number as Thursday, but still well below last month, when the number topped 2,000.

Although coronavirus cases, deaths and hospitalizations have been declining, the county Department of Public Health continued to warn residents not to become lax in following preventive guidelines, such as wearing face coverings and social distancing.

In a statement Thursday, the agency recognized the resurgence of protests in recent days, fueled by the Wisconsin police shooting of Jacob Blake, and noted planned gatherings Saturday to mark the 50th anniversary of the Chicano Moratorium.

The county urged people planning to take part in such events to stay home if they are sick, seek medical attention if they are displaying COVID-19 symptoms, wear a face covering, try to maintain physical distance from others, bring along hand sanitizer and keep your hands clean.

Gov. Gavin Newsom on Friday released a revised system for tracking counties' efforts to slow the spread of the coronavirus, and providing guidance on possible reopening of more businesses and schools.

RELATED: Newsom: All California hair salons, barbershops can reopen indoors with modifications

The revised system authorizes the county to allow the reopening of indoor barbershops and hair salons, and the reopening of indoor shopping malls at 25% capacity, beginning Monday. But the county stressed that local officials had not yet fully reviewed the new state guidance, and the local health order has not been changed to allow such businesses to reopen.

RELATED: LA County says hair salons, barbershops must remain closed despite Newsom's announcement

Counties are authorized to enact stricter health regulations than the state, should they choose to do so.