Los Angeles coronavirus toll declines, but officials warn of possible holiday spike

L.A. County Department of Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer
L.A. County Department of Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer.
(Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times)

Health officials on Sunday confirmed five new deaths and 798 new cases of COVID-19 in Los Angeles County, continuing a steady decline in the region’s pandemic toll that began a month ago.

But they also noted that the low death and case counts reflected a reporting lag over the three-day weekend.

They also cautioned that new spikes in fatalities and hospitalizations could follow the Labor Day holiday if friends and families gather at crowded barbecues and parties, as they did on Memorial Day and the Fourth of July.

“If you have 10 guests over to your house to celebrate the holiday, you are adding risk that any of your guests could introduce the COVID-19 virus into your household,” warned the public health department.


Officials also stressed that a single asymptomatic family member could trigger spread of the disease throughout the community.

Librarians and other library staff in Los Angeles are becoming contact tracers.

The new numbers bring the cumulative total of positive cases of the coronavirus countywide to 248,334, with 6,005 fatalities.

The new deaths followed familiar demographic patterns: four of those who died were over 65, including one over 80 years of age. All four had underlying health conditions that made them especially susceptible to serious viral infections.

The final fatality was between the ages of 50 and 64 years of age. Only eight percent of county residents who died from COVID-19 were free of previous health conditions.

The racial and ethnic breakdown of those who died also fell into familiar, if dismaying, categories: 51% Latino, 24% white, 15% Asian American and 10% Black.

The coronavirus has also caused 1,000 deaths in Orange County. With many Southern Californians fleeing a record heat wave at area beaches, authorities urged people to stay clear of crowds, use their own eating utensils and keep masks on except when plunging into the surf.

“Any crowded space — even if it’s outdoors — can pose health and safety risks,” a statement from Los Angeles County public health officials said.