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Deaths From Coronavirus Top 725 In LA County; 40% Of Victims Lived At Institutional Facilities Like Nursing Homes

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Los Angeles County officials reported 1,318 new confirmed cases of coronavirus today, bringing the total to at least 16,435 cases countywide.

L.A. County Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer also reported 66 new deaths of COVID-19 patients. Of those victims, 48 were over the age of 65, she said, and 38 of those people had underlying health conditions.

The total number of deaths countywide now stands at 729.

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Ferrer also provided a racial breakdown of the confirmed deaths, based on information confirmed for 582 of the victims. According to the latest available information:

  • 15% African American [9% of county residents]
  • 18% Asian [15.4% of county residents]
  • 37% Latino or Latina [48.6% of county residents]
  • 27% White [26.1% of county residents]
  • 2% identified as belonging to a different race or ethnicity

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County officials are now reporting that 292 residents at institutional facilities, mainly nursing homes, have died. That represents 40% of all deaths countywide. Ferrer had this to say regarding how the county will change its approach to testing at nursing homes in particular:

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"... in the past, we have done a lot of our infection control protocols around an assumption that we needed to worry about people who were symptomatic and test people who were symptomatic... But it turns out that we were wrong, and with new information it's become clear that asymptomatic people are capable of spreading the virus. And this is particularly true in a facility where all of the care for most of the residents happens — because employees are bathing people they're feeding people, they're moving people they're in extraordinarily close contact with the people who reside there — and really helping to make sure that those people have what they need every single day. But in having what they need, it's become clear that part of that is our obligation to make sure that we're able to test all residents and employees for the virus, regardless of whether they show symptoms or they don't."

Ferrer also announced that five staff members from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will join the county health department's staff, starting tomorrow though May 10. Those workers will "help us do visits to the skilled nursing facilities and assist with improving all of our infection control practices," she said.

Dr. Christina Ghaly, director of the county's Department of Health Services, said that the latest data show that COVID-19 cases are "leveling off" in the region, but noted that the projections modeling is not a "crystal ball."

"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, and to avoid excessive strain on the hospital system across the county," Ghaly said.

Here are some other key figures being reported today:

  • More than 90,000 people have been tested for COVID-19 and had the results reported to county health officials. Of those tests, 15% have been positive.
  • There are currently 1,791 people hospitalized with COVID-19. Of those individuals, 30% are in the ICU, with 19% on ventilators.
  • In total 3,902 people who've tested positive for coronavirus in L.A. County have "at some point" been hospitalized, Ferrer said, which represents 24% of all positive cases.
  • Ferrer said 100 cases have been confirmed among L.A. County residents experiencing homelessness — 55 of whom were sheltered. She noted the outbreak at Union Rescue Mission accounted for the sharp increase.
  • The county health department is currently investigating 272 institutional facilities where there's at least one confirmed case of COVID-19. Those sites include “nursing homes, assisted living facilities, shelters, treatment centers, supportive living and correctional facilities,” Ferrer said. The county reports that 1,826 residents at those facilities and 1,289 staff members have tested positive, for a total of 3,115 cases confirmed cases.
  • There have now been 96 confirmed cases “at some point in time” in county jail facilities, Ferrer reported. Thirty-four inmates and 62 staff members have tested positive.

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