L.A. County reports record-high daily increase in coronavirus cases; officials attribute numbers to ‘lab backlog’

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Los Angeles County has been in the midst of its Phase 3 reopening plan with more businesses resuming and residents getting back to work and daily activities, but on Wednesday health officials reported its steepest increase in confirmed cases of the coronavirus.

Thirty-four new deaths and 2,129 new cases of the coronavirus were reported by the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health. At a news conference Barbara Ferrer, the county’s public health director, said the large increase in cases Wednesday is because of a “backlog of 600 test results being reported by one lab.”

Countywide, there have been 77,189 positive cases of COVID-19 and a total of 2,991 deaths.

Ferrer said the county has seen a steady decline in the number of coronavirus-related deaths. In early May, the average daily death toll was about 45 people. Now in June that number has decreased to about 34 people each day.

“Although the good news is that the rate of death is decreasing, we still have a lot of people in our county that are passing away from COVID-19,” Ferrer said.

And while many residents may be relieved to get back to a semi-normal way of life with more freedom to move around, health officials reiterated the importance of physical distancing to help keep others from contracting and dying from the illness.

“This means practicing physical distancing as much as possible and wearing a cloth face covering whenever you are around other people who are not from your household,” Ferrer explained. “This includes when you are walking along a sidewalk or standing in line at the store; if you will pass by others, please be wearing your face covering.”

After being shut down for the better part of three months, gyms, bars, restaurants, malls, hair salons, parks, beaches, campgrounds, hotels, libraries and several others have since been allowed to reopen.

Nightclubs, movie theaters and nails salons are among the businesses that still remained closed. However this week the county is considering modifying its health order to allow for nails salons and tattoo shops to welcome back customers. Ferrer said more reopening information could be available as early as Thursday.

“There is an obligation on every business that is open at this point to really adhere to the guidance. There are protocols and directives out there to make sure that your facility offers as much safety as possible to your customers and to your workers and to the residents,” Ferrer added.

To date, more than 853,000 people have been tested across the county for the coronavirus.

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