LOS ANGELES – The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health Friday reported 51 more deaths due to COVID-19 and 883 new cases.
In the Antelope Valley, there were 491 reported cases and 10 deaths in Palmdale, 394 cases and seven deaths in Lancaster, 29 cases and five deaths in Quartz Hill, 25 cases and two deaths in Lake Los Angeles, 19 cases and no deaths in the Littlerock/Pearblossom, Juniper Hills areas, and seven reported cases and no deaths in Sun Village, as of Friday, May 8, according to the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health. View the latest report here.
The new cases lifted the county’s overall total to 30,296, and the new deaths brought the county’s overall death total to 1,468.
Barbara Ferrer, director of the county Department of Public Health, said the continuing increase in deaths and cases should be a reminder that the coronavirus is continuing to spread, so people taking advantage of newly opened businesses should continue to exercise caution.
“Protocols with directives on how to protect workers and customers is posted on our website, and stores and facilities are not allowed to open until they’ve complied with the changes and the directives,” Ferrer said.
The newly relaxes restrictions allowed florists, toy stores, book stores, clothing retailers, sporting-goods stores and music shops to reopen, but only with curbside pickup service. Car dealers were also allowed to reopen, but with strict social-distancing and infection-control measures in showrooms.
“As these places reopen, we do need to remember the new normal,” Ferrer said. “When we’re out and about more, we have to behave as if anyone could be infected with COVID-19 and that we also could be infected. It is possible to infect people and be positive for COVID-19 even when you have no symptoms at all.”
“And for people 65 and older and with underlying health conditions, you do need to remain home as much as possible,” Ferrer added. “This is more important now than ever because there are more people out and about in our communities. So we ask you to not venture out except for your medical appointments.”
Authorities continued to warn that people who leave their homes must continue wearing face coverings when they mingle with other members of the public, and must maintain a six-foot distance between themselves and others.
Ferrer 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.
She noted that since it can take two weeks for the infection to materialize, it could be that long before the impact of the business reopenings is known. Ferrer has suggested that an increase in cases is almost inevitable if more people leave their homes to visit newly opened businesses, but health officials will be closely monitoring case numbers and the mortality rate, particularly among vulnerable communities.
In announcing new case figures Friday, Ferrer stressed the continued disproportionate impact of the virus on communities of color and lower-income residents.
For the 1,352 people who died and for whom ethnicity information was available, 39% were Latinx, 29% were white, 18% were Asian, 12% were black and 1% were Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander.
But factoring in the overall population of those communities showed a staggering difference in death rates. Ferrer said that for the Native Hawaiian community, the death rate from the virus is 89 for every 100,000 residents. For the black community, the rate is 18 deaths per 100,000 residents, compared to 15.5 for the Latinx community, 12 for Asians and nine for whites.
For residents living in communities with high poverty rates, the death rate is 29 people for 100,000 residents, compared to only eight per 100,000 in more affluent areas.
“The data are not only concerning, but they require all of us to work together and take quick action,” Ferrer said.
She noted that the county on Friday began another round of serology tests, which are aimed at determining if people have developed antibodies against the coronavirus, an indication they have been infected with the virus at some point. A previous round of testing of randomly chosen people determined that roughly 4.1% of the county’s 10 million residents had been infected — far more than the results of actual COVID-19 testing has revealed.
Ferrer said the next round of antibody tests will include “more sampling among highly impacted groups,” including the black community, Asians, Pacific Islanders, Latinos and Native Hawaiians.
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/