Coronavirus cases in L.A. County surpass 4,500 as death toll climbs to 89; daily increases could reach 1,000, officials say

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Los Angeles County officials reported 521 new coronavirus cases and another 11 deaths Friday, bringing the total number of patients to over 4,566 as the death toll climbed to 89 countywide.

Seven of the people who died were over the age of 65, all of whom had underlying health conditions.

Dr. Barbara Ferrer, the county’s public health director, said Friday that 78 percent of people who tested positive for COVID-19 and then died were over 65.

In just 48 hours, more than 1,000 new cases were reported.

Ferrer noted that as testing capacity has increased significantly in the county — from testing less than 50 people a day to now doing 7,000 tests daily — we can expect and prepare for having 1,000 new positive cases a day starting next week.

“The next few weeks are going to be critically important because we are going to see more cases of people who are positive with COVID-19,” the director said. “But it’s our hope that the rate increase continues to be manageable and that we don’t overwhelm our health care system.”

She continued to stress that the best way to do that is by adhering to the stay-at-home order and practicing physical distancing.

“We can continue together to manage the road ahead, but as we embark on these days that are coming we must continue to strive to keep ourselves apart,” the director said.

The county is now investigating outbreaks at more than 67 institutional settings. The total number of people who have tested positive for coronavirus among these facilities is up to 321, and 11 people have died.

There are 25 cases of coronavirus across correctional facilities in the county, Ferrer said. She also indicated that there are seven cases of the virus among the homeless population, instead of nine as was reported Thursday, after it was revealed that two people were not in fact homeless.

As cases continued to rise locally, L.A. County is now being considered the epicenter of the virus in California, the Los Angeles Times reported Friday. As of Friday morning, there are 11,317 cases of COVID-19 statewide, with 250 deaths, according to the Times.

On Friday, U.S. Centers for Disease Control recommended that Americans wear face masks amid the pandemic two days after L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti asked Angelenos to make their own masks at home and cover their noses and mouths while out in public.

Officials said that homemade masks, or other facial coverings, should be washed regularly.

Ferrer said that while covering your mouth can help prevent you from spreading the virus, residents should still adhere to social distancing guidelines and only go outside for essential services.

“Please don’t stop doing what we know works best,” she said.

Also on Friday, Antonia Jimenez, director of the county’s public social services, described how the agency is helping residents during tough financial times.

She noted that there has been an increase in applications for CalFresh, CalWORKS and other benefits, and while their offices are currently closed because of the pandemic, benefits will continue uninterrupted through May.

She announced the authorization of a new emergency benefit allotment for those already receiving EBT benefits.

Information on the new benefits program can be found on the agency’s website.

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