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COVID-19 On Track To Become One Of The Leading Causes Of Death In LA County, Officials Warn

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Los Angeles County’s coronavirus task force gave an update on the COVID-19 pandemic. Read highlights below or watch the full video above.

COVID-19 is poised to become one of the leading causes of death in Los Angeles County, Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer said at today's media briefing.

Ferrer presented a chart showing how COVID-19 deaths measure up to other leading causes of death in L.A. County from January through June this year.

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(Courtesy Los Angeles County)

She noted:

"While this isn't a perfect comparison, because this year's data for other leading causes of death has not yet been finalized, it does appear that COVID-19 is on track to claim more lives in L.A. County than any disease except coronary heart disease. It's killing more people than Alzheimer's disease, other kinds of heart disease, stroke, and COPD."

For about a month, roughly 30 people are dying from COVID-19 each day, she said.

But Ferrer was also hopeful, saying the steep increases in the rate of infections seen in recent weeks have leveled off, and this week marks what she believes can be "a critical turning point in determining whether our collective efforts are beginning to take us in a better direction."

Right now, those efforts don't include a complete shutdown like the one back in March, she said.

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"I'm going to say that definitively," she said. "We are not planning to shut down this week."

BY THE NUMBERS

Los Angeles County officials reported 3,266 new confirmed cases of coronavirus today, bringing the total to at least 164,870 cases countywide. In total, 6,843 cases have been reported in Long Beach and 1,758 in Pasadena (those two cities operate their own health departments).

Ferrer also reported 64 new deaths of COVID-19 patients. The total number of deaths countywide now stands at 4,213 people.

So far, 92% of those who have died had underlying health conditions, she said.

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Ferrer also provided a racial breakdown of the confirmed deaths, based on information confirmed for 3,927 of the victims. According to the latest available information:

  • 40% Latino / Latina [48.6% of county residents]
  • 11% African American [9% of county residents]
  • 26% White [26.1% of county residents]
  • 15% Asian [15.4% of county residents]
  • Less than 1% Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander [0.4% of county residents]
  • 1% identified as belonging to another race or ethnicity

MORE YOUNGER PEOPLE GETTING INFECTED, MORE OLDER ADULTS DYING

Ferrer presented data on the infection rate by age group. It showed a higher rate of new COVID-19 cases among teens and young adults. The rate is highest for adults ages 18 to 29, more than doubling over 30 days.

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(Courtesy Los Angeles County)

"We've seen that nearly 60% of the cases we're now seeing are among our young adults, and that hospitalizations are also increasing among young adults," she said, "but 75% of those who are dying right now are older adults."

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Ferrer once again implored people in L.A. County to follow public health guidelines:

"I know it's a sacrifice, especially on beautiful summer days, but I'm asking people to stay home as much as possible. Avoid gathering with people you don't live with. I understand that this is a challenge, and we all want to see our friends and our family that we don't live with. But if we continue to gather for barbecues, pool parties, dinners and other events, it's very hard to slow the virus... a lax attitude to this virus can be deadly for someone you love, or for yourself. You could be infected, not know it, and pass the infection to someone you love, who may not be as lucky as you."

FEDERAL AID

L.A. County received $1.2 billion in federal relief through the CARES Act, and the county's Board of Supervisors has approved the allocation of that money. Supervisor Hilda Solis broke down where some of that money is going.

  • About $300 million will be used for COVID-19 testing and contact tracing
  • $160 million for grants for small businesses and to "ensure employers comply with worker protection requirements," Solis said.
  • $85 million for food security programs
  • $100 million for rent relief
  • $15 million for childcare, which Solis said she "will ensure is prioritized for essential workers."

"Through this funding we'll be able to continue to meet the moment by bending the curve of COVID-19 and prioritizing our most disadvantaged communities were more resilient, L.A. County," Solis said.
WAIVERS FOR SCHOOLS

Ferrer mentioned Governor Gavin Newsom's recent announcement that local health officials will be able to issue waivers to school districts and private schools, allowing for reopening classrooms for in-person learning.

The county health department will consult with state health officials to assess each request, she said. An application system is in the works and should be available "by the end of this week or early next week," she added.

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