Coronavirus cases in L.A. County top 6,900 as death toll rises to 169

Local News

Los Angeles County officials said Tuesday that coronavirus cases have reached 6,910 and the death toll increased to 169 after an additional 22 deaths were reported.

African Americans have a slightly higher rate of death than other races and ethnicities in the county, based on preliminary data gathered on 93 deaths, said Dr. Barbara Ferrer, the county’s public health director.

She encouraged labs to collect information on race and ethnicity in order to better understand the burden of the disease.

Sixteen people who recently died were over 65 and had underlying health conditions. Among the other deaths, six were between 41 and 65, and five of those patients had an underlying condition, Ferrer detailed.

The mortality rate from the virus continued to increase slightly and is now 2.4% countywide.

Of the total positive cases, 1,510 people been hospitalized — that’s 22 percent.

Currently, there are 132 people in intensive care, and that includes 53% of people who have an underlying health condition, and 44% of which are 65 and older.

The county is now conducting investigations at 121 institutional settings, and the total number of confirmed cases among people who either work or live in one of theses facilities is 552, Ferrer said.

A total of 37 people who have died were residents in a facility such as a skilled nursing home or assisted living facility, including four at an assisted living facility in Redondo Beach.

Ferrer said the county agrees with advice from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the state to care for loved ones at home if at all possible.
  
“But I also know there are many families that are faced with the horrible reality that they cannot care effectively for a person in their home,” she said.

There are 30 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in jail facilities, most of which are staff. And there are 10 cases in the local state prison, most of which are among inmates, Ferrer said.

Ten people experiencing homelessness have tested positive for coronavirus, including one person who resided in a local shelter.

Ferrer said that there will be more institutional settings with coronavirus cases as the number of infected people in the county continues to increase.

As of Monday, more than 35,300 people have been tested, with 14 percent of tests coming back positive. Ferrer noted, however, that there are about 20,000 negative lab results that haven’t been included in totals that may bring that percentage down.

The county is also looking at data around testing, which is believed to be occurring less among communities who are living in poverty or close to poverty.

“People living in wealthier communities have better access to testing,” Ferrer admitted.

A “much-needed” testing site will open at East Los Angeles College Wednesday and officials are working to make additional testing available in East and Southeast Los Angeles communities, as well as the San Gabriel Valley, Supervisor Hilda Solis said Tuesday.

L.A. County remains the epicenter of the virus in California, and cases continue to grow locally.

On Monday L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti announced that the county is expanding testing for the virus by removing restrictions on who can get tested, and now any resident can apply online.

Gov. Gavin Newsom has said the coronavirus outbreak will reach its peak in California in late May. But a new analysis by researchers at the University of Washington shows California will hit its peak of COVID-19 deaths on April 17.

On Monday, Ferrer thanked Angelenos for adhering to social distancing guidelines and the safer-at-home order, but reminded residents that “this is the ‘stay at home week.’”

She noted that while Holy Week and Passover are being observed this week, planned gatherings should be canceled. Instead, she asked residents to share tips of how they are safely practicing their faith.

Looking ahead, Ferrer said that the county is planning for reopening businesses and lifting restrictions, saying “we’re going to get to the other side of this.”

“I think it’ll take many months for us to get back to how it was,” she said.  

Though she didn’t have an exact date on when it might happen, she said eventually people will be able to return to work.

Supervisor Kathryn Barger noted, however, it’s important not to lift the safer-at-home order prematurely and “risk people’s lives.”

Though the supervisor said she is not sure how the return to regular life will happen, she gave an example of having restaurants operate at half capacity.

Also on Tuesday, Skye Patrick, director of L.A. County Library, shared the plethora of resources available online for children and adults alike.

She said the library system’s vast digital collections, courses on anything from coding to resume writing, and one-on-one tutoring are all available.

In addition, Patrick said the library has extended due dates and suspended late fees amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Information on how to get a library card online and how to access resources is available here.

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