LOS ANGELES – The number of coronavirus cases in Los Angeles County surged past 15,000 Tuesday, while 46 more deaths were reported.
In the Antelope Valley, there were 184 reported cases in Lancaster and 248 cases in Palmdale as of 12 p.m. Tuesday, April 21, according to the LA County website.
As of midday, the number of deaths in the county due to COVID-19 was 663. The county’s public health director, Barbara Ferrer, announced 1,400 new cases overall, although 880 of those were due to a newly cleared backlog of earlier testing results.
The additional cases pushed the countywide total of cases to 15,140, but officials in Long Beach — which has its own health department — subsequently announced 13 additional cases, raising the county total to 15,153.
Of the 663 people who have died, ethnic/race data was available for only 582 people. Of those, 36% were Latino, 28% white, 18% Asian and 16% black, continuing the trend of a disproportionate percentage of black and Asian residents dying from the illness.
A total of 269 institutional settings — including nursing homes, skilled nursing facilities, assisted living facilities, shelters, jails and prisons — have had at least one case. Those institutions have accounted for a total of 2,913 cases, involving 1,692 residents and 1,221 staff members. They also account for 255 deaths, or roughly 38% of all coronavirus fatalities in the county. The “vast majority” of those deaths were in skilled nursing facilities, according to the county.
As of Tuesday, April 21, more than 89,000 people had been tested in Los Angeles County, with about 14% of them testing positive.
Responding to recent protests in other cities calling for a lifting of public-health restrictions and business closures, Ferrer and Supervisor Hilda Solis both said social-distancing measures are still needed to prevent another surge in cases.
“The weather is getting beautiful, and we share your desire to have a plan for recovery. As I mentioned last week, in order for us to be able to safely relax our Safer At Home order, we need to make sure that we do this in a way that doesn’t result in a surge in hospitalizations and deaths. And that we’re able to care for people who are sick and need health-care services.”
Ferrer said the county is working with health care facilities to prepare for possible surges in COVID-19 cases while also treating people with other health issues.
“We can’t reopen safely until we make sure we protect those that are most vulnerable,” she said.
Solis also said that summer-like weather anticipated over the next few days should not lull residents into a sense of security, saying, “Now is the time for us to continue staying at home.”
“This order remains in place to protect you,” she said.
She said county officials will be working closely with the state when it comes to decisions regarding reopening businesses and lifting stay-at-home orders. She said that “just because there are voices” calling for restrictions to be lifted, those decisions will rely on data and science.
“We know that we can’t be foolish,” she said.