With 29 new coronavirus-related deaths reported Wednesday, Los Angeles County saw its biggest daily jump in fatalities since the start of the pandemic. The total number of cases has reached 7,530 and the death toll rose to 198.
The mortality rate across the county also rose to 2.6%.
Of the 29 deaths reported Wednesday, 17 people were over 65, 16 of which had underlying health conditions, according to Dr. Barbara Ferrer, the county’s public health director.
A total of 324 health care workers have tested positive for COVID-19, and two have died, Ferrer revealed Wednesday.
Coronavirus cases among health care workers are occurring in three main settings, with nurses being the most likely to test positive, Ferrer said. Fifty-eight percent of cases occurred in hospitals, 16% were in outpatient facilities and 6% were in emergency medical services.
“For me, the words ‘thank you’ don’t really convey the gratitude I feel to all of the frontline health care workers,” Ferrer said. “You’re heroes and we appreciate your commitment to continuing to take excellent care for all of us while we know you’re facing the impossible task of juggling caring for your families while showing up every single day on the front lines.”
Cases in institutional facilities continue to increase, with the county now investigating at least one case of COVID-19 at 131 locations.
To date, there are 596 coronavirus cases in county facilities, and 37 deaths have occurred among residents.
Among county correctional facilities, there are 43 cases in jails, 10 in state prisons and two in a juvenile detention facility, Ferrer said.
There are 12 cases among people experiencing homelessness, up from 10 reported Tuesday.
As of Tuesday, 36,500 people have been tested for COVID-19, with 15% testing positive.
Ferrer noted, however, that with the “dramatic increase” in testing sites, there is a lag time in getting results from those tests. And while testing capacity continues to grow, the county still has not met its goal of testing 10,000 people a day, Ferrer said.
“As we get there, the number of positive cases will continue to rise,” Ferrer said.
In an effort to increase testing throughout the county and to further investigate how the virus is affecting different communities, more drive-up testing sites are being opened.
A testing site at Charles R. Drew University in South Los Angeles will be taking demographic information from patients, and another site opened up at East Los Angeles College, which will serve people in that community, as well as the San Gabriel Valley.
Ferrer on Wednesday provided guidance for people with disabilities who may also be susceptible to falling ill from COVID-19.
She said those with disabilities who live in assisted living facilities should reduce contact with others, while caregivers who visit homes should be careful not to bring the virus into a residence where a person with a disability lives.
Caregivers should wear masks and disposable gloves when visiting a home, and residents should wipe down surfaces or equipment frequently.
Those with physical limitations should arrange for food, medication and supplies to be delivered, make sure that they have everything they need for at least 30 days and have a personal emergency plan in place.
Ferrer thanked Angelenos for doing their best to help stop the spread of COVID-19.
“We have weeks to go before we’re able to lift any of our health officer orders,” she noted. “Please know that what we’re doing right now is saving lives, the lives of those people who are most vulnerable, the lives of those people you live and your life. We’re going to get through this together L.A. County, and I’m grateful for all that you’re doing.”
Heidi Marston, interim director of the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority on Wednesday highlighted the county’s efforts to provide housing for homeless people countywide.
Officials are providing medical shelters, turned 13 recreation centers into temporary shelters and has extended its winter shelter program to continue housing people.
In addition, the county started to implement the state’s Project Roomkey initiative to secure hotels and motels across Los Angeles to bring highly vulnerable people inside, Marston said.
Since last Friday, 405 rooms have opened up for those at highest risk and officials home to have more than 800 beds available at 12 sites countywide by early next week, Marston said.
Each sites have nurses providing medical screenings two times a day and occupants are receiving three meals a day. In addition, the county is working with a security firm to provide 24/7 security at each site, Marston said.
While Los Angeles County has the state’s largest concentration of homeless people at some 60,000, L.A. County’s goal is to make 15,000 rooms available, the Associated Press reported.