COVID-19 cases far exceed official tally in LA, antibody study reveals

COVID-19 is more widespread but less fatal than health officials in Los Angeles County previously thought, according to new antibody testing data from the University of Southern California and the county health department. 

The preliminary findings stem from an ongoing study on the scope and spread of the pandemic by USC researchers and county officials. 

Based on the first round of antibody testing, researchers estimate about 4.1 percent of adults in Los Angeles County have an antibody to the novel coronavirus. When adjusting for statistical margin of error, this figure ranges from 2.8 percent to 5.6 percent, suggesting that 221,000 to 442,000 adults have contracted COVID-19 in the county.

This estimate is 28 to 55 times higher than the 7,994 confirmed cases reported to county officials in early April, when the study was conducted.

The findings also suggest there is a lower risk of death among COVID-19 patients than previously assumed, although cases continue to rise daily. As of April 20, LA County reported more than 600 deaths. 

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