Thirty-four more deaths from novel coronavirus and 1,260 new cases were confirmed today by the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health, while the number of people hospitalized due to COVID-19 continued its slow upward climb.
There are 1,556 people currently being hospitalized, with 26% of them in the ICU and 18% of them on ventilators, according to the statement from County Public Health.
Health officials said 28 of the people who died were over the age of 65, four were between the ages of 41 and 65 years old, and one person was between the ages of 18 and 40.
Health officials in the county and state have been expressing concern about recent increases in hospitalizations due to the coronavirus. Gov. Gavin Newsom said this morning that across the state, the number of people hospitalized has jumped by about 29% over the past two weeks.
In Los Angeles County, the number has been slowly climbing for the past week, and as of today, the number stood at 1,556, up from 1,515 on Tuesday. The county Department of Public Health noted this week that the number is still less than the pandemic peaks of more than 1,900 patients, and there is no immediate threat of hospitals becoming overwhelmed with patients.
But the rate of people testing positive for the virus has been on the rise. As of Tuesday, the seven-day average of positive tests was 8.8%, up from 5.8% just two weeks ago. Newsom said a similar spike in the positivity rate was being seen statewide.
In a bit of good news, the 1,260 new cases represents a drop, with the daily number having topped 2,000 four times in the past week.
These new cases, along with another 132 reported by Long Beach health officials, lifted the overall county total to 89,622. The countywide death total now stands at 3,206. Ninety-three percent of the people who died had underlying health conditions already, according to the latest statement from the County.
The County’s latest statement also focused on nursing facilities.
"To date, Public Health has distributed over 4.8 million masks and almost 1 million N-95 masks to nursing homes and other long-term care facilities," county public health director Barbara Ferrer said.
All 315 skilled nursing facilities in LA County, not including Long Beach and Pasadena, have completed testing of all residents and staff. Out of more than 35,000 tests results available for residents and staff, 5% tested positive for COVID-19 and 82% of the people testing positive were asymptomatic or pre-symptomatic, the County statement said.
Unlike previous large jumps in daily cases, Ferrer said this week that the recent increases were not attributable solely to backlogs in test reports from testing labs. Instead, she said the increases were indicative of increased community spread of the virus, likely the result of more people being out of their homes as sectors of the economy reopened.
Such a rise was anticipated when the county began reopening businesses about a month ago, leading to more people being out of their homes and interacting with other people. Although no clusters of cases have been specifically linked to recent mass protests against police brutality, Ferrer said it was also highly likely that those marches - many of which included large numbers of people without masks and ignoring social-distancing mandates - caused more spread of the virus.
Continued increases in hospitalizations and positivity rates in testing could raise the possibility of the county re-imposing business closures and stricter stay-at-home orders to avoid overwhelming hospitals.
"Public Health will monitor the data closely to see how increases in cases and rates of positivity affect the number of daily hospitalizations over the next few weeks," according to a Tuesday statement from the county DPH.
"Our collective goal is to prevent an overwhelming surge of COVID-19 cases at health care facilities."