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L.A. County coronavirus cases near 64,000 amid protests and reopenings

Worshipers are welcomed back at the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels in downtown Los Angeles on Sunday, June 7, 2020
Worshipers are welcomed back at the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels in downtown Los Angeles on Sunday.
(Christina House / Los Angeles Times)

Los Angeles County reported 1,523 new cases of the coronavirus Sunday and 25 related deaths. The high number of new cases was in part due to a backlog of test results received from one lab, officials said.

“Our community is feeling the sadness and loss of so many who have passed away from COVID-19,” said Barbara Ferrer, county public health director, in a statement. “Our hearts go out to the family and friends of those who have passed away.”

The county now has recorded nearly 64,000 cases of the virus, and more than 2,600 people have died.

The continued increase comes as hundreds of thousands of people have taken to the streets to join dozens of sweeping protests against the police killing of George Floyd and other black Americans.

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L.A. County is also continuing to ease stay-at-home restrictions put in place to slow the spread of the virus. Most recently, the county was given the go-ahead to reopen restaurants for in-person dining, and resume services at barbershops and hair salons. On Sunday, Catholic Archbishop José H. Gomez celebrated the first in-person Mass at the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels since public services were suspended on March 16.

County public health officials anticipate an increase in coronavirus cases in the coming weeks because of both the protests and the reopening of businesses and other establishments. Still, they hope that the increase in those who become sick enough to be hospitalized is not sufficient to overwhelm the healthcare system.

The county has continued to report that the number of hospitalized patients has held roughly steady, with 1,451 confirmed coronavirus patients in county hospitals Sunday. About 30% of them were in intensive care, officials said.

Ferrer said earlier this week that anyone who has been in a large crowd, in close contact for at least 15 minutes with people not wearing face coverings, should consider self-quarantining for at least two weeks to see if COVID-19 symptoms develop.

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On Sunday, she reiterated the advice. “If you think you may have been exposed to COVID-19, it’s important to know that, because of the long incubation period of the virus, getting tested immediately after exposure is likely to yield a negative result and does not mean you are not infected with COVID-19,” she said. “It is important to please stay away from others for 14 days after possible exposure.”

The overall percent of people testing positive for the virus in L.A. County also has continued to decline. As of Sunday, about 696,000 people had been tested and received their results, with about 8% testing positive.

Many coronavirus testing sites were temporarily shut down or had their hours reduced last week due to safety concerns raised by the protests or curfews that were enacted, officials said. But since it takes several days for results to be returned and reported, it’s likely too soon to know how much the closures drove down testing rates.

Orange County, which has taken similar steps toward reopening as L.A. County and also has seen protests, reported 119 new cases of the virus and one related death Sunday, bringing its total to 7,440 cases and 177 deaths. A total of 297 people were hospitalized, with 129 of them in intensive care.


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