L.A. County coronavirus cases top 1,800 with 6 new deaths reported

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A drive-thru coronavirus testing site is seen outside Dodger Stadium on March 27, 2020. (KTLA)

A drive-thru coronavirus testing site is seen outside Dodger Stadium on March 27, 2020. (KTLA)

Los Angeles County health officials reported six more coronavirus-related deaths and another 344 confirmed cases Saturday, bringing the total cases surging past 1,800 as the nation’s most populous county stepped up its testing capacity.

A total of 32 people in the county have died of the respiratory illness as of Saturday and there have been 601 new cases reported over the past 48 hours alone, the L.A. County Department of Public Health said in a news release.

Officials didn’t provide information on the latest deaths as investigations continue but said that five of the deaths reported Friday were all people over the age of 60 who had underlying health conditions.

The County’s 1,804 confirmed cases include 75 in Long Beach and nine in Pasadena, which both have their own public health agencies.

About 22% of all of the county’s COVID-19 patients have needed hospitalization, according to the department.

Gov. Gavin Newsom on Saturday said the number of COVID-19 patients in intensive care units across California jumped 105% overnight, while the number of people hospitalized due to the coronavirus increased 38.6%.

COVID-19 cases in California topped 5,000 Saturday with at least 100 confirmed deaths.

Among those infected were a total of 24 Los Angeles Police Department employees and six Los Angeles Fire Department personnel, city officials said Saturday.

“All of these individuals are self-isolating at home and recovering,” according to a written statement issued by Los Angeles’ Emergency Operations Center.

With a surge in cases threatening to overload local hospitals, state officials have been working on securing more hospital beds and ventilators for patients and protective gear for health care workers, and even helping get doctors and nurses out of retirement to help with the flood of patients.

A 1,000-bed U.S. Navy hospital ship, the USNS Mercy, arrived at the Port of Los Angeles Friday, becoming the city’s largest hospital. The ship will take in patients that don’t have COVID-19 in an effort to provide relief to local hospitals.

L.A. city and county officials said they are working on increasing coronavirus testing capacity but L.A. County Public Health Director Dr. Barbara Ferrer said Friday that testing remains limited and residents need to adhere to stay-at-home orders and practice social distancing to curb the spread of the virus.

After people were seen congregating at L.A. County’s beaches last weekend, the county ordered all beaches to close in an effort to reduce crowding.

“More than ever, it is crucial that we practice social distancing, and if we are sick, even with mild illness, we make every effort to self-isolate from others for at least 7 days,” Ferrer said in a written statement. “Please do your part to not infect others or become infected yourself by adhering to the public health directives and practicing social distancing whenever you do go outside,” Ferrer said.

Correction: A previous version of this story provided an incorrect number for deaths in the state. This story has been updated.

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