LOS ANGELES – Forty more deaths due to coronavirus were reported in Los Angeles County Tuesday, the largest single-day jump in fatalities since the pandemic began. County public health director Barbara Ferrer reported 670 new cases in Los Angeles County on Tuesday, raising the countywide total to 10,047.
In the Antelope Valley, there were 91 reported cases in Lancaster and 109 cases in Palmdale as of 12 p.m. Tuesday, April 14, according to the LA County Department of Public Health.
The 40 new deaths increased Los Angeles County’s total to 360, and again raised the local mortality rate to 3.6% — representing the percentage of coronavirus-positive residents who have died. The percentage has been steadily increasing, having been at about 1.8% in early April.
Of the 40 new deaths reported, 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 Latin0, 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.
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.
Ferrer reported Monday there have been 787 cases of the virus reported among health care workers, roughly one-third of them being nurses, while about 9% are doctors. She said three people have died, two who worked in hospitals and one correctional health worker.
Of the cases among health-care workers, 43% occurred among hospital workers, 19% in skilled nursing facilities and 12% in outpatient facilities.
The new figures released Tuesday 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.
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… We need to stay home, we need to physically distance, we need to use our cloth face coverings when we’re out and we need to self-isolate and self-quarantine when ordered to do so.”
“These tools are essential now and they will remain essential as part of our toolkit until we have therapeutic medicines and a vaccine,” she said.
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.