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13 More Deaths In LA County; Majority Of Those Hospitalized Have No Underlying Conditions

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L.A. County's top health official had a stark reminder at today's coronavirus briefing: Two-thirds of all the people currently hospitalized here with COVID-19 have no underlying health conditions. They're also dispersed across all age groups.

This is the point that L.A. County Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer continues to make, anyone of any age can potentially end up with a serious illness requiring hospitalization.

Her message was underscored by the most recent statistics:

  • 13 new deaths — one person was aged 41-65, while the other 12 were over 65, and 11 of those had underlying conditions
  • 78 deaths total, for a mortality rate of 1.9%
  • 86% of those who died had underlying health conditions
  • 534 new cases reported today
  • 4,045 total cases countywide, with more than 1,000 in the last 48 hours
  • 9 people who are homeless have now tested positive
  • 900 positive individuals have been hospitalized — that's 22% of all positive cases
  • 5 people under 35 are currently in the ICU, and a couple of them have no underlying conditions
  • 298 people across 54 institutions have tested positive — that's assisted living facilities, nursing homes, supportive living jails and prisons
  • 11 people have died in either a skilled nursing facility or an assisted living facility
  • 7 people have tested positive at a county jail — six staff members and one inmate
  • 6 positive cases at Lancaster State Prison
  • 2 homeless shelters have confirmed cases — that includes two staff members and one guest
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Ferrer also joined L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti in effectively recommending that anyone who goes out in public could benefit from covering their face. However, there were some strong caveats: namely, don't buy up all the masks, but instead make your own.

Her language may have been less direct, reflecting unclear research on the benefits: "It may be appropriate if you're out and you're not able to do all the social distancing that we've asked you to do." That said:

"It is probably a good idea, given the evidence that says that you could be asymptomatic and still infectious, for you to cover your nose and mouth. But we would ask that you go on online and you see how to make your own mask. They're very simple to make."

Making your own means more medical grade masks will be available for those who need them most — the very same health care workers who may save your life. In addition, Ferrer said the professional versions, like N95 masks, require special fitting to ensure maximum protection, so you have to know what you're doing. So just don't.

Another caveat: don't get complacent. Social distancing is still the most important protection.

"Even if we're masked, I don't want people to get a sense of security: 'Oh, I've covered my nose and my mouth, and now I can just be out and about.' That is not what we're saying. You must keep that social distance. The masks will not protect you 100%, particularly from infecting others, which is really all that they are appropriate for."

Also: wash your hands.

And steel yourself for what is likely to be at least several more weeks of social distancing. Feeling overwhelmed? Ferrer had a message for you:

"Please don't lose hope. And please don't stop following all of the directives that you are following right now to slow the spread of COVID-19. I thank you from the bottom of my heart for all that you're doing."


This story will be updated.

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