LOS ANGELES – The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health Thursday confirmed 51 more deaths due to COVID-19 and 815 new cases.
In the Antelope Valley, there were 486 reported cases in Palmdale, 387 cases in Lancaster, 29 cases in Quartz Hill, 24 cases in Lake Los Angeles, 19 cases in the Littlerock/Pearblossom, Juniper Hills areas, and seven reported cases in Sun Village, as of Thursday, May 7, according to the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health. View the latest report here.
County health officials warned that failure to adhere to safety measures as the economy restarts could prompt a return to social restrictions.
“As we begin this journey of recovery, some of us will be going back to work, some of us will just be out and around more people. But that doesn’t mean that we’re now living in a post-COVID-19 world,” said Barbara Ferrer, director of the county Department of Public Health. “As we’re around one another more, it’s a good idea to act as if anyone could be infected with COVID- 19 and you too could be infected at any point in time.
“… The virus has not changed. It can still spread easily and it can still result in serious illness and death,” Ferrer added.
The 815 new cases raised Los Angeles County’s total to 29,427; the 51 new deaths brought the county’s death total to 1,418.
Of the people who died, 92% had underlying health conditions. For the fatalities in which ethnic data was available, 38% were Latinx, 28% white, 18% Asian, 12% black and 1% Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander.
More than half of the county’s deaths, 51%, were residents of institutional settings in the county, the vast majority of them in skilled nursing facilities. There were 11 coronavirus cases among staff members, 17 confirmed cases among residents, and eight deaths due to COVID-19 at the Mayflower Gardens Convalescent Hospital in Lancaster, as of Thursday, May 7.
Ferrer said the effort to control the spread of the virus in nursing homes is “one of our biggest priorities at the moment.”
As those efforts continue, the county on Friday will relax the Safer At Home health restrictions that have been in place in response to the virus. The health order, largely mirroring one issued by the state, forced the closure of “non-essential” businesses and severely limited the operations of others, while also calling on residents to remain home as much as possible, and to wear face coverings when mingling with others or visiting grocery stores or other shops.
Beginning Friday, “low-risk” businesses such as florists, car dealers, toy stores, book stores, clothing retailers, sporting-goods stores and music shops will be allowed to reopen, with the retail outlets restricted to curbside pickup service.
Ferrer stressed the need for people to continue adhering to social-distancing and face-covering requirements, and to continue frequent hand-washing and sanitizing as more businesses reopen, likely leading to more interaction among the general public. She also said people who know they’ve been exposed to someone with the illness must quarantine themselves for 14 days, which is recognized as the incubation period for the virus.
“As we reopen, it’s likely, because more people are about, that there could be more spread of the infection,” Ferrer said. “But we may not see information to tell us if this is happening for a few weeks. So we are gonna need to spend some time gathering information every day over many weeks to see what the impact is of having more and more people out and about in our community.”
To drive the point home, Ferrer said that if just 1 million county residents — 10% of the population — who have been largely staying at home suddenly start circulating, as many as 50,000 of them likely are or will become infected, based on antibody testing that showed roughly 5% of the population is impacted by the virus. If just 5% of those people who get infected become seriously ill, that means 2,500 people will need to be hospitalized, in a system that on average has only 2,000 available beds daily.
“These numbers demonstrate that there is a lot at stake as we relax Safer at Home, and that reopening our county, even slowly, only works if we’re all really committed to being careful,” Ferrer said.
She called the reopening effort a “balancing act,” but warned that closure-orders could be imposed again if there is a dramatic spike in deaths.
“If we don’t do this well, if we can’t really adhere to the guidance, if it’s too hard to keep our distance when we’re out and about, if it’s too hard to keep on the cloth face coverings that can offer some protection to each other, we will see that spike that we don’t want to see and we’ll need to revert to more restrictions,” she said.
Gov. Gavin Newsom, who on Thursday outlined statewide guidance for business reopenings, largely mirroring the steps being taken by Los Angeles County, echoed those comments, noting that 92 virus deaths were reported in California over the past 24 hours.
“I’ll remind people that think, ‘Hey, the emergency’s over, we can go back to the way things used to be’ — I’ve heard some comments from people that are even in elected office saying that — tell that to 92 families that were destroyed because they lost a loved one to this virus in the last 24 hours,” Newsom said. “This by no stretch of the imagination is over. We want to contain this spread. We are making real progress in this state because you all practiced physical distancing, you abided broadly by the stay at home order, but we are not out of the woods. And yes, we are very, very cognizant of the fact that when we modify (health orders) … more mixing of individuals puts more people at risk of contracting the disease.”
An interactive dashboard is available that provides comprehensive information on COVID-19 cases and deaths, along with maps and graphs showing data by city and community. To view Public Health’s COVID-19 Surveillance Dashboard, visit: http://dashboard.publichealth.lacounty.gov/covid19_surveillance_dashboard/