Coronavirus lab testing

Microbiologist extracts COVID-19 genetic material from patient samples in the Public Health Laboratory. The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health conducts Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) test for COVID-19 on March 19, 2020. 

Los Angeles County confirmed more than 50 additional coronavirus deaths today, along with more than 2,700 new cases, as a backlog in testing results from the state slowly began to clear.

The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health announced 51 fatalities due to the coronavirus, while health officials in Long Beach reported five and Pasadena added one. The new fatalities lifted the countywide death toll from the virus to 4,432.

A total of 2,708 new cases were reported by the county, along with 313 by Long Beach and 21 from Pasadena. As of Tuesday afternoon, the countywide number of cases confirmed since the start of the pandemic stood at 178,976.

County health officials said a backlog of testing results being reported by the state's electronic lab system was skewing the numbers, and they expected that backlog to clear over the coming days.

Data-reporting was also affecting the number of people listed as hospitalized due to the virus. The county on Tuesday reported 2,051 confirmed cases in hospitals -- not including Long Beach and Pasadena -- with 29% of those people in intensive care units. Those numbers, however, did not include data from three hospitals, county officials said, indicating the actual number of people hospitalized is likely higher.

County health officials have been cautiously optimistic in recent days about the data trends, suggesting that while the pandemic is still raging, key metrics such as testing-positivity rates and hospital admissions appeared to be leveling off, suggesting progress is being made in slowing the spread of the virus.

Public health director Barbara Ferrer on Monday stressed that if residents continued following infection-control measures such as physical distancing and wearing face coverings, the numbers will continue to improve. She reiterated that belief Tuesday.

"As individuals, and as a community, we must collectively commit to continuously practice the behaviors that slow the spread of COVID-19," she said in a statement. "Compliance with public health directives, containment of the virus and collaboration across all sectors are key for us to move into the long-term recovery that we all want to see happen as soon as possible."

Ferrer on Monday stressed the importance of business owners adhering to public health directives and reporting any outbreaks among employees. She said three more local businesses were ordered closed this week due to large-scale outbreaks and failure to comply with operating protocols.

Golden State Foods Corp. in Industry had 43 confirmed cases of the virus, according to Ferrer and the county's website. S&S Foods in Azusa had 58 cases. Mission Foods in Commerce had 40 cases.

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