Lining up for coronavirus drive-thru

Vehicles line up for drive-thru coronavirus testing site on Stadium Way near Echo Park.

COVID-19 deaths continue to mount in Los Angeles County, with 40 new deaths reported today, along with nearly 1,100 new cases.

Of the 40 deaths, 33 were people over the age of 65, nine were between the ages of 41 and 65, and one was between 18 and 40, county health officials said.

Also, 34 of the 40 had underlying health conditions, including 25 who were over age 65.

To date, County Public Health has identified 37,303 positive cases and 1,793 deaths, with 92% of the people who died having underlying health conditions.

As of today, 5,784 people or 16% of positive cases have been hospitalized, officials said.

With more businesses opening and the weather improving, head of the public health department, Barbara Ferrer, warned residents of gathering with friends and family, while acknowledging it will 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," she said, adding that 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."

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 face masks, social distancing and asking people to remain home as much as possible.

She echoed numbers from Thursday, showing that on average, people infected with the virus are in turn infecting one other person. That's down from an initial rate of three other people per 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."

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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