Another 48 people died of COVID-19 in Los Angeles County over the past day, a steady death toll that shows the virus’ continued grip over the region.
On Saturday, health officials reported a total of 895 deaths and 19,107 confirmed cases of the virus after another 607 people tested positive over the past day. Following more than a month of closures, the virus continues to spread and kill patients at a consistent rate — the county has seen an average of 44 deaths daily as of Thursday, Health Director Dr. Barbara Ferrer said this week.
By Thursday, most of the county’s COVID-19 deaths, or about 67%, had occurred in just the prior 12 days, Ferrer said. With the virus showing no signs of slowing down, health officials have said business closures and other social distancing guidelines must remain in place.
Public pools, beaches, trails and recreational areas are still closed throughout the county this weekend amid fears warmer weather will tempt residents who’ve been confined to their homes for weeks. Local leaders and health experts continue to urge people to stay home.
“There is a direct correlation between what you do this weekend and how long this will take and how many lives we will lose,” L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti said Friday. “Keep that in mind and do the right thing this weekend.”
Before reopening L.A. County, health officials have said there needs to be widely expanding testing and better abilities to trace the virus and isolate patients to prevent it from spreading further.
Health officials said Saturday test results are available for nearly 114,000 people and 15% have been COVID-19-positive. That represents around just 1% of the county’s population.
COVID-19 is currently the leading cause of death in L.A. County, outpacing any illness or other cause. Fatalities reached a daily peak last week, on Saturday, when health officials reported another 81 virus-related fatalities.
This week, a new forecast presented by the county’s health department indicated the number of cases are “leveling off,” said Dr. Christina Ghaly, the county’s director of health services.
“However, new infections are not yet decreasing, and we continue to have a need to maintain physical distancing measures to prevent an increase in cases of COVID-19,” Ghaly said.
An estimated 92% of all COVID-19 patients who died had an underlying health condition, according to data from the public health department. Of 820 cases where information on demographics was reported, 37% of virus patients are Latino, 28% white, 18% Asian, 14% African American, 1% native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander and 1% people who identify