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L.A. County reports 691 new coronavirus cases and 38 deaths

Nurse practitioner Sharlene Gan and medical assistant Celia Cerna of Los Angeles Christian Health Centers take a swab sample from Demetria Nichols on April 30 at the Midnight Mission in Los Angeles.
Nurse practitioner Sharlene Gan and medical assistant Celia Cerna of Los Angeles Christian Health Centers take a swab sample from Demetria Nichols on April 30 at the Midnight Mission in Los Angeles.
(Al Seib / Los Angeles Times)

Los Angeles County public health officials on Saturday announced 691 new COVID-19 cases and 38 related deaths.

“For those of you who are grieving a loved one lost to COVID-19, we are so sorry for your loss,” Barbara Ferrer, the county health director, said in a statement.

The county has recorded a total of 24,894 cases and 1,209 deaths. More than 158,000 people have been tested for the novel coronavirus and received results, with about 14% testing positive, officials said.

“As we plan for L.A. County’s recovery phase, we are mapping a path forward that allows us to appropriately acknowledge the very real risks of COVID-19 and, together, do everything possible to continue to slow the spread and save lives,” Ferrer said.

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The Department of Public Health is working toward relaxing some of the provisions of the county’s stay-at-home order, but businesses and residents will still need to practice physical distancing and infection control measures, and some orders and directives from health officers will remain in place, the department said in a news release.

Though the number of coronavirus cases and related deaths has risen steadily, L.A. County has not seen a rapid spike sufficient to overwhelm the healthcare system, as has been seen in New York City and other locations.

Ferrer said Friday that it’s important to respect the stay-at-home orders currently in place and to ensure that any loosening occurs gradually so that case levels continue to be manageable.

“The conditions we faced in February and March and April haven’t changed significantly,” she said. “We still have a new virus that is easily spread among people who are in close contact with each other. Ninety-five percent of us have still not been infected, and until there’s a vaccine, most residents in L.A. County can be infected at any time over the months to come.”

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County officials have said that four benchmarks must be reached in order for L.A.'s stay-at-home orders to be eased.

Hospitals will need to make sure they can maintain capacity to treat people who are sick with COVID-19 and those with standard medical needs. Protections must be in place for the most vulnerable residents, including the elderly, homeless people and those who live in institutional settings.

The county must be able to test, isolate and quarantine all those who are ill and conduct surveillance to prevent further spread. And physical distancing and infection control measures must be maintained, including when businesses start to reopen.

“While we’re planning for recovery, there will still need to be health-officer orders in our new normal, and directives to help us make sure that we’re opening slowly and carefully so that we avoid any huge outbreaks and overwhelming our healthcare system,” Ferrer said.


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