One day after reporting the largest one-day increase in deaths and new cases since the coronavirus pandemic began, Los Angeles County officials today announced 15 more deaths and 663 more cases of COVID- 19.
The county now has 5,940 confirmed cases of COVID-19 -- the disease caused by the virus -- and 132 people have lost their lives.
The numbers were even worse Saturday, when 28 deaths and 711 new cases were added to the toll.
Of the 15 deaths confirmed Sunday, 11 had underlying health conditions and 10 were over the age of 65, according to the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health. Two were between 41 and 65 and one was between 18 and 40.
Two deaths were reported by the city of Pasadena, which has its own health department.
"We have some very difficult days ahead and now is the time for all of us to redouble our physical distancing efforts and look after our neighbors, friends, and families who may be at the highest risk for serious illness from COVID-19," said Dr. Barbara Ferrer, director of public health. "If you are elderly, have underlying health conditions or are pregnant, please make sure you are staying home at all times and allowing others to shop for your essential goods."
Ferrer said 1,257 people who tested positive for COVID-19 -- or 21% of the cases -- have been hospitalized at some point during their illness. Testing capacity continues to increase in L.A. County, with almost 31,000 individuals tested and 14% of people testing positive.
County officials said Sunday that three more COVID-19 mobile testing sites would open this week, at Martin Luther King Jr. Community Hospital, in East Los Angeles and Santa Clarita.
In addition, the officials said the county is in discussions with AltaMed to bring several urgent care facilities to underserved areas.
The pandemic has created a burden for essential workers trying to care for children, but on Saturday, Gov. Gavin Newsom addressed the issue by signing an executive order that subsidizes childcare for those workers. .
Emergency responders are among the essential workers being hardest hit by the coronavirus. As of Friday, 43 Los Angeles Police Department employees had tested positive for COVID-19 and 13 members of the Los Angeles Fire Department had tested positive, said Jessica Kellogg of the Los Angeles Emergency Operations Center.
"One LAPD employee has recovered and returned to full duty, two individuals are hospitalized, and all other individuals are self-isolating at home and recovering," Kellogg said. "Two LAFD employees have recovered and returned to duty, with one member who is currently hospitalized and being treated. The remaining 10 employees are recovering at home."
The spike in county numbers comes one day after Ferrer warned residents to brace for more staggering numerical increases in coming weeks as testing capacity improves.
The number of cases across Los Angeles County grew by roughly 500 per day last week. But Ferrer said that as more testing comes online, the number of confirmed cases will likely jump to 1,000 daily by this week -- given that roughly 10% of people who are tested turn out to be positive, and the county expects to soon have capacity to test 10,000 people a day.
Public Health has issued the following guidance for people with mild illness during this time of increased spread:
• Stay at home whenever possible and practice social distancing -- keep at least six-feet away from others when you leave your home.
• Wash your hands with soap and water as frequently as possible for at least 20 seconds. Use hand sanitizer when water is not available.
• The general public should wear non-medical face coverings when interacting with others while obtaining essential supplies and services. You should not purchase hospital-grade masks, which are in short supply and desperately needed in hospitals. People can use scarves or other fabric, suggesting that people go online for instructions on how to fashion a homemade mask.
• If you are mildly sick, stay home for at least seven days and until 72 hours after being fever and symptom free. Call your doctor if you are concerned and/or your symptoms worsen. Individuals who are elderly, have underlying health conditions or pregnant should consider contacting their providers earlier when they are sick.
Additional things you can do to protect yourself, your family and your community are on the Public Health website.