Coronavirus deaths reach 495 in L.A. County as total number of cases nears 11,400

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Los Angeles County reported 40 additional deaths due to COVID-19 Friday, bringing the death toll to 495, as the total number of cases reached 11,391.

The new figures come as the county set a record for daily deaths for three days in a row this week.

The nation’s most populous county now has almost half of coronavirus deaths in California, a Los Angeles Times analysis showed.

Of the new deaths reported Friday, 28 people were over 65, 19 of whom had underlying health conditions, Dr. Barbara Ferrer, the county’s public health director, said. Eight people were between 41 and 65, six of whom had underlying health conditions and one person who was between 18 and 40 also had an underlying condition.

Ferrer has noted that while the number of infections appears to be leveling out, the death toll continues to climb partly due to patients dying days after being hospitalized. This lag in reported fatalities is seen in other hot spots too, like New York City, she explained.

An additional 567 cases were reported Friday, and in just 48 hours, there were 966 new cases countywide, Ferrer said.

In less than a month, the county created 30 drive-up testing sites with a total capacity of about 11,000 tests a day, Dr. Clayton Kazan, medical director for the Los Angeles County Fire Department said.

He said that although testing in the county got off to a “bumpy start,” it now rivals that of any country in the world. In addition, same-day COVID 19 tests is now available for all county residents.

Officials are now investigating 228 institutional settings that have had at least one case of COVID-19. There are a total of 2,183 coronavirus cases at such facilities, most of which are among staff. Ferrer said 177 people who resided in an institutional setting have died of causes related to COVID-19, and they represent 36% of all deaths in the county.

She noted that 20 nursing homes or care facilities have an outbreak of more than 20 people testing positive, four of which have an outbreak of 40 or more cases.

“We are extraordinarily worried about the outbreaks that continue to happen across the many institutional settings,” the director said.

Officials have requested additional assistance from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the state to help address the need for increased technical assistance at these sites, as well as additional staff, Ferrer said.

As health care workers account for 10 to 20% of coronavirus cases nationwide, cases among those workers continue to grow locally as well.

An additional 644 health care workers in Los Angeles County tested positive for COVID-19 in the last week, bringing the total number of cases to 1,441 with five deaths, Ferrer said Friday. Of those cases, 38% were among nurses. The infections have been reported in 26 different settings, with hospitals representing the majority of those sites, at 36%.

On Friday, the county announced a partnership with Airbnb to house health care workers who are worried about staying with their families amid the pandemic.

The company will offer free housing for up to 1,000 frontline workers fighting the spread of the virus. Residents can list their home for use and donate to the effort by visiting the Airbnb website for COVID-19 relief.

For the first time Friday, the county shared information about pregnant women who have been affected by COVID-19. Sixty-one pregnant women have tested positive for the virus; 10% were in their first trimester 33% were in their second trimester and 34% were in their third trimester. A total of 12 women who were positive with COVID-19 have safely delivered babies, and six of the infants that were tested were negative for the illness.

As the county’s stay-at-home order remains in place for at least another month, local, state and federal officials this week started to discuss plans to reopen the economy.

Businesses may reopen as early as May in some areas, but health officials urge residents to continue physical distancing guidelines.

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