L.A. County reports progress in coronavirus fight as hospitalizations drop, fewer people test positive

Testing for the coronavirus is being conducted at St. John's Well Child and Family Center in South Los Angeles.
(Al Seib/Los Angeles Times)

Los Angeles County public health officials Saturday announced 1,032 new cases of the coronavirus and 41 related deaths but also revealed encouraging signs of progress in slowing the virus’s spread.

“Thanks to everyone’s efforts, our data points to steady declines in hospitalizations, deaths and the percent of people testing positive,” Barbara Ferrer, the county health director, said Saturday in a statement.

The county has seen a 13% decrease in its latest seven-day average of deaths per day and a 16% decrease in its most recent three-day average of hospitalizations per day, according to a Department of Health dashboard that tracks metrics related to recovery.

In addition, the percentage of people who have tested positive in L.A. County has reached an all-time low of 8.5%, compared with 28% in New York City, Ferrer said.


Her comments came the day after the White House coronavirus response coordinator, Dr. Deborah Birx, singled out Los Angeles as one of three metropolitan areas that has seen a persistently high number of new daily cases, which she said was a cause for concern.

On Saturday, Ferrer attributed the high case counts to ramped up testing.

Theories abound as to why L.A. County has the bulk of the state’s confirmed coronavirus cases, but a clear explanation has been elusive.

May 23, 2020

“The increase we see in our number of cases is because we have increased the number of people we are testing, and this is a good thing,” she said.

The county was meeting its goal of testing 15,000 residents each day, with a seven-day average of 17,901 daily tests performed, the dashboard states. As of Saturday, more than 436,000 people had been tested and received their results.

“We are testing more people per capita in L.A. County than the state of California, the state of Washington, the state of Georgia, the United States, and Seattle King-County,” Ferrer said.

That comes as a number of new testing sites have been established by both L.A. city and county authorities.

The latest is scheduled to open Tuesday at Dodger Stadium, L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti announced Friday.

“This site isn’t special just because of where it is and all those amazing memories we have of going to Chavez Ravine to see the boys in blue play,” Garcetti said. “It’s remarkable because we’ll be able to test up to 6,000 people a day.”