LA County mental health worker

A member of the L.A. County Mental Health Home Outreach Team providing information to the general public regarding COVID-19 and encouraging safety precautions.

Forty more deaths due to coronavirus were reported in Los Angeles County today, the largest single-day jump in fatalities since the pandemic began, while the overall number of cases topped 10,000.

The sharp increases came one day after the county reported its lowest number of new cases -- 239. County public health director Barbara Ferrer noted that Monday totals are generally lower due to more limited testing on the weekends.

The 670 new cases reported today by Ferrerr and new figures from Pasadena and Long Beach, which both have their own health agencies separate from the county, pushed the countywide total to 10,075.

So far a total of 366 people have died from coronavirus across the county, according to all public health agencies.

Of the 40 new deaths reported by the county health department, 25 were over age 65. Seventeen of those 25 people had underlying health conditions. Nine of the 40 new deaths were people aged 41-65, five of whom had existing health problems. No data was immediately available on the other six cases.

The county has been compiling ethnic data on people who have died from COVID-19, but thus far such information was only available for 292 of the 360 people who have died. Of those 292, 34% were Latinx, 32% white, 17% Asian, 16% black and 2% were listed as other.

Of the county's 10,047 cases, 26 were homeless people, and all but four of them were unsheltered.

Nursing Homes Account for 31% of Deaths

A total of 109 residents of nursing homes or skilled nursing facilities have died from the coronavirus, representing 31% of all deaths in the county. The county is investigating cases at 199 "institutional settings," such as nursing homes, skilled nursing facilities, assisted living facilities, shelters, jails and prisons that have had at least one case. Those institutions have had a total of 1,596 cases.

A total of 64 cases have been confirmed in the county's jails -- 11 inmates and 53 staff members. There were also 29 cases in prisons, involving 19 inmates and 10 staffers, while four staff members at county juvenile facilities have tested positive, Ferrer said.

As of Monday, more than 63,000 people have been tested in Los Angeles County, with about 11% testing positive.

The new figures released today came amid a growing national discussion about when stay-at-home and other health department orders might be lifted, allowing people to go back to work and non-essential businesses to reopen. Gov. Gavin Newsom released a series of six goals the state will have to meet before any consideration is given to lifting health orders.

Ferrer listed four indicators being eyed by county officials -- generally mirroring those discussed by Newsom.

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But like Newsom, Ferrer warned that a lifting of orders is not on the immediate horizon. On Friday, the county extended its stay-at-home orders through at least May 15.

"We're not yet on the other side of this pandemic, and we've all worked together amidst many difficulties and challenges to find ways to reduce the spread of COVID-19," she said. "But we're going to need to keep up our efforts to avoid a surge in cases that will overwhelm our hospitals. We don't want to lose ground."

Stay-at-Home Orders Lifted If .... 

Ferrer said the four areas that will be considered by county health officials before relaxing stay-at-home and business-closure orders are:

 Ensuring the county has adequate health care services available for the sick while also ensuring resources for preventive care such as immunizations and dental services, and also ensuring health care workers have needed personal protective equipment;

 Ensuring resources are available to adequately protect the most vulnerable populations from coronavirus, such as the elderly, people in nursing homes and people with underlying health conditions;

 Expanding the availability of coronavirus testing, and also providing space for people to safely quarantine or isolate from others, particularly if people under such orders are unable to do so in their own homes; and

 Ensuring that when businesses are allowed to reopen as the pandemic recedes, they have plans in place to continue maintaining social distancing to prevent a new spike in cases.

"Reopening safely will be different for different business sectors, and we're looking forward to working with all of these sectors over the next few weeks to create directives that ensure the safety of workers and customers when we get to the other side," Ferrer said.

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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