L.A. County COVID-19 cases top 26,000, as deaths climb to 1,256; cases among health care workers surge

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Health officials reported 28 new COVID-19 deaths in Los Angeles County Monday, bringing the total number of deaths attributed to the virus to 1,256 countywide.

Another 568 people tested positive for the novel coronavirus, marking 26,217 positive cases within the county Monday, according to the L.A. County Department of Public Health.

Of the new deaths reported Monday, 22 of them were people over the age of 65 and included 18 with underlying health conditions. Four of the people who died were between age 41 to 65 and all had underlying health conditions.

Information on race was available in 99% of the fatalities, of which about 38% were Latinx, 29% were white, 19% were Asian, 13% were African American, 1% were Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander and 1% identified with other races.

“African Americans, Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander and people living in communities with high levels of poverty continue to have the highest rate of death per 100,000 people for COVID-19 when compared to other groups,” the county said in a statement.

Among the 1,256 people who have died of COVID-19 in the county, 93% had underlying health conditions, L.A. County public health director Barbara Ferrer said.

She urged vulnerable groups to stay at home and to get essential items delivered to further protect themselves from exposure. More people die each day in L.A. County from COVID-19 than any other disease, Ferrer added.

COVID-19 cases among health care workers continue to rise, with 2,978 confirmed among healthcare workers and first responders, Ferrer said. More than 1,000 new cases were diagnosed among that group in the last week alone.

Health care workers who tested positive work in 24 different occupational settings, the vast majority of which are employed in skilled nursing facilities and hospitals.

Of health care workers who tested positive, 44% are among nurses; over three-quarters of all medical professionals with COVID-19 were exposed in a health care facility.

Testing capacity continues to increase in the county, with 34 mobile testing sites set up throughout the county. Nearly 173,000 individuals have been tested thus far, with 13% testing positive for the virus.

There are 196 confirmed cases among the homeless population, officials said.

Officials will work to accelerate the placement of 15,000 individuals in hotels and motels through Project Roomkey, the statewide initiative to house the homeless and vulnerable during the public health crisis, according to L.A. County Board of Supervisors Chair Kathryn Barger. She admitted the county was behind in the effort.

The briefing came just after Gov. Gavin Newsom announced that the second phase of reopening parts of the state could go into effect as early as Friday.

“All of us share in the responsibility to reopen in a way that is safe and doesn’t cause a spike,” Ferrer said, adding that the virus has not changed and is still easily transmitted among people in close contact.

She said that people will still need to adhere to strict social distancing guidelines as the county moves toward reopening.

“There will be new normals during this period,” Ferrer said.

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