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L.A. County reports 69 new coronavirus-related deaths, significantly higher than last week’s average

Faro Tabaja, owner of Waves Barbershop in Manhattan Beach, gives a haircut to Gene Geiser of Manhattan Beach.
Faro Tabaja, owner of Waves Barbershop & Boutiquein Manhattan Beach, gives a haircut to Gene Geiser.
(Mel Melcon / Los Angeles Times)

Los Angeles County reported 69 new deaths related to the novel coronavirus Friday and more than 2,600 additional cases.

Statewide, the number of cases surpassed 500,000, according to The Times’ coronavirus tracker. There have been 9,100 deaths.

The number of deaths in Los Angeles County is significantly higher than last week’s daily average of nearly 38, officials said. On Wednesday, the county recorded a daily record of 91 deaths, numbers that officials said were affected in part by a reporting backlog.

The figure reflects exposures that occurred weeks earlier, the L.A. County Department of Public Health noted in a release.

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There are 2,002 people hospitalized with confirmed cases of COVID-19; 29% of them are in intensive care. So far, the county has identified more than 188,400 total cases of the virus and 4,621 deaths.

“As we are seeing increases these past few days in the numbers of people dying from COVID-19, the reality of the devastation cannot be ignored,” Barbara Ferrer, director of the L.A. County Department of Public Health, said in a statement. “Nor can we ignore the reality that there are actions each person can take to prevent these tragic outcomes.”

On the same day California broke a new daily record for COVID-19 deaths, a teenager in the Central Valley has died of causes related to the disease, becoming the first such juvenile death in California.

L.A. County accounts for the majority of the state’s infections.

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During a media briefing Thursday afternoon, L.A. County Health Officer Dr. Muntu Davis stressed the need for businesses to comply with the county’s health orders. That includes reporting any outbreak of three or more cases and alerting all workers who may have been exposed to a person with a known case, he said.

Officials are investigating the deaths of two employees at Mission Foods Corp. in Commerce whom they believe were positive for the coronavirus when they died. Mission Foods, a leading distributor of tortillas, chips and salsas sold in grocery stores, was one of three food-processing businesses that the county shut down Sunday; as of Thursday, 49 employees had tested positive.

The other two food-processing businesses ordered shut this week were S&S Foods of Azusa, which produces meat and other products for large-scale food service companies, and Golden State Foods Corp. of Industry, which makes sauces and condiments for fast-food restaurants, including McDonald’s.

The family of Jose Roberto Alvarez, who oversaw maintenance at Mission Foods and died July 20 after he contracted the coronavirus, has criticized the company for failing to disclose to its workers the number of employees who had tested positive. In a statement, Mission Foods said it has focused intensely on worker safety, including temperature checks and other workplace safety measures, informing government officials to COVID-19 cases and giving leaves of absence to workers who are deemed to be at high risk.

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The Department of Public Health is investigating more than 1,000 outbreaks of the coronavirus and is receiving 2,000 to 3,000 weekly complaints about businesses. Davis encouraged people to come forward with information about businesses that may be in violation of the health order; for complaints to L.A. County, which can be made anonymously, call (888) 700-9995.

Times staff writers Colleen Shalby, Jaclyn Cosgrove and Rong-Gong Lin II contributed to this report.


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