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Face masks

Volunteers help bundle deliveries of personal protective equipment and supplies for Outreach teams at the Department of Health Services - Housing for Health

COVID-19 deaths continued to mount in Los Angeles County, with another four dozen fatalities reported today, but the county's public health director said again that measures such as social distancing and wearing face coverings have slowed the spread of the illness.

And with more businesses opening and the weather improving, Barbara Ferrer warned against residents gathering with friends and family, but recognized that such gatherings may occur.

"Seeing friends, we're not recommending that at this point in time," Ferrer said. "We are recommending that you continue to do your distancing in the ways that we've recommended before.

"... We do appreciate that there are circumstances where you may be around some other people, and in those circumstances, ... we do recommend you're at least keeping that six-foot distance and that you're using a cloth face covering to try to protect other people, and they should do the same to protect you," she said.

The admonishment came on a day that the county reported another 47 deaths due to the coronavirus, boosting the county's fatality toll to 1,755. Ferrer also announced 962 more cases of the virus, while Pasadena and Long Beach, which have their own health departments, added 65 more, lifting the countywide total to 36,324.

Despite the ever-increasing numbers, Ferrer again stressed that the rate of the virus' spread has been slowed by the county's Safer At Home orders mandating social distancing and asking people to remain home as much as possible.

She echoed numbers that were revealed Thursday, showing that on average, people who are infected with the virus are in turn infecting one other person. That's down from an initial rate of three other people being infected by each patient.

"And that's only because of all of the work that you've done," Ferrer said. "So I ask you to continue to practice physical distancing, continue to wear your cloth face coverings when you're among other people, because these actions work. This is your way of keeping other people safe."

Dr. Christina Ghaly, the county's health services director, said Thursday that if social-distancing and other restrictions had not been imposed, the coronavirus outbreak would be far worse.

"If everyone across Los Angeles County had not honored the Safer At Home health officer order, then we would be in the midst of a public health disaster the likes of which none of us would like to be experiencing, and that would be difficult to imagine," she said.

Ferrer today also clarified differing orders imposed by Los Angeles city and the county regarding face coverings. The city of Los Angeles announced an order Wednesday that requires residents to wear face coverings whenever they are outside their homes.

The county order, however, is not as strict, requiring only that residents wear face coverings only when they are in proximity to other people who are not members of their households. Ferrer also issued a warning to people who are engaging in rigorous exercise while wearing a mask because it does make it more difficult to breath deeply.

"We encourage people who want to do exertion that's going to task their lungs to please do that in a solitary way. Go for a solitary run so that you're not around other people."

Guidance

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.

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