Los Angeles County officials reported 31 new coronavirus deaths on Easter Sunday, the largest single-day total since the outbreak began.
Twenty-five of those fatalities were people over the age of 65, and the other six were between the ages of 41 and 65, health officials said.
In all, 296 L.A. County residents have died of COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus. The number of confirmed infections in the county rose to 9,192 — an increase of 323 since Saturday. That’s the lowest number of new cases on a single day since March 27.
Until Sunday, the highest one-day death toll in L.A. County was 29, on April 8.
Across California, meanwhile, communities ushered in the Easter holiday with new restrictions to keep people indoors and away from public gatherings where the coronavirus might spread.
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To deter crowds from assembling for traditional outdoor observances, all L.A. County parks, lakes and botanical gardens were closed to the public. Officials warned that authorities would be out in force to make sure people didn’t congregate.
“Your heart breaks,” L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti said last week when he announced the order. “But we can’t afford to have one cluster of even just a few people together spread this disease to more people and kill them.”
The popular walking path around the Silver Lake Reservoir remained open but was converted to a one-way trail Saturday. Pedestrians were required to stay six feet apart and wear masks.
“If we can all walk in the same direction, practice social distancing and wear face masks, everyone will remain healthy and have these options to exercise during the pandemic,” Councilman Mitch O’Farrell said in a video posted to social media.
The cities of Burbank, Beverly Hills, Culver City, Hermosa Beach, Long Beach, Santa Monica and West Hollywood also announced that their parks would be closed and that violating the orders could result in a misdemeanor charge.
Shoppers are now required to wear face coverings when visiting grocery stores and other essential businesses in the city of Los Angeles, as well as in many other nearby cities. Workers at some of those businesses reported Sunday that customers appeared to be heeding the new mandate.
Aki Hirata, a floor manager at Nijiya Market in Torrance, said there was confusion among customers on Friday when the order took effect. But overall, he said, “customers have been pretty good” about wearing their masks. And that makes Hirata, an essential service employee, feel a lot safer, he said.
Health officials insist that stringent social distancing measures are essential to fighting the spread of the coronavirus and minimizing the number of deaths. Statewide, more than 630 people have died of COVID-19.
In adherence with the ban on group gatherings, many churches in the Southland held Easter services online.
“Nothing can separate us from the love of God, not persecution, famine, pestilence, or plague,” Archbishop José H. Gomez of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles said in a statement. “And not this pandemic.”