LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) – About 40 percent of all those who have died of coronavirus in Los Angeles County were residents of institutional settings, primarily nursing homes, health officials reported Wednesday.
There were 1,318 new coronavirus cases reported in L.A. County Wednesday and another 66 deaths from the disease. It marks the third straight day in which L.A. County has reported at least 1,300 cases.
It brings L.A. County’s total number of cases to at least 16,435 cases, with a death toll of 729.
L.A. County Public Health Director Dr. Barbara Ferrer said Wednesday that there have now been 3,115 cases reported at 275 different institutional settings, which include skilled nursing facilities, assisted living facilities, jails, prisons, homeless shelters, treatment centers and supporting living facilities. .
292 residents of those facilities have died, most of which lived in skilled nursing facilities. That accounts for 40 percent of all coronavirus deaths in the county.
This is prompting public health officials to put an emphasis on increasing testing for both symptomatic and asymptomatic residents and staff at nursing homes and then isolating and quarantining those who need to be.
So far, more than 90,000 people in L.A. County have been tested for coronavirus. 15 percent of those have been positive.
“We are working this week to increase our capacity to offer COVID-19 testing at institutional settings where there are outbreaks,” Ferrer said.
Ferrer noted the antibody study released by USC earlier this week which indicated that an estimated 4 percent of all Angelenos have likely already been infected with coronavirus.
“With the new information that’s emerging that indicates there are many more people than we thought who are positive for COVID-19, and they’re not sick, we have to change our strategies and adjust,” she said.
Along with upping testing, the county is also sending personal protective equipment to hundreds of nursing homes.
2.8 million masks, 8,000 gowns, 200,000 gloves and 50,000 face shields are being distributed to over 300 nursing homes. Each facility will receive between 5,000 and 16,000 masks.
Beginning Thursday, both the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the state Department of Public Health are sending staff to visit local nursing homes where there have been outbreaks.
“That’s particularly focused on making sure that the sites can do a good job isolating and quarantining residents as appropriate,” Ferrer said.
There are 1,791 people currently hospitalized with the disease countywide. 30 percent are in ICUs and 19 percent are on ventilators.
There are 100 cases among the county’s homeless population, that’s four times the number of cases reported on April 13, when there were just 25. The spike is primarily due to an outbreak at the Union Rescue Mission in downtown L.A.’s Skid Row, Ferrer explained.