By CBSLA Staff

LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) – As the devastating Bobcat Fire rages into its sixth day, Los Angeles County health officials are warning that poor air quality across the Southland could result in an increase in COVID-19 cases.

Dr. Brad Spellberg, chief medical officer at County-USC Medical Center, says some studies suggest that COVID may be worse when air quality is poor.

“There is evidence that exposure of lungs to bad air quality can increase the protein in the virus that binds…..to the infection in the lungs,” he said.

According to Spellberg, the studies are based on statistics in China, Italy and what health officials have seen in Los Angeles.

Some homeowners fleeing the fires say the smoke and ash is already impacting their physical health.

“I feel it a little bit in my throat now, even with my mask on,” said Monrovia resident Imani Johnson. “It’s the worst.”

The unhealthy air quality across the county has forced COVID-19 testing sites to close through at least Friday.

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