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80% Of LA County's Restaurant Jobs Are Gone; Confirmed Coronavirus Cases Top 40K

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Locked gates at Ye Olde Taco House in Downtown Los Angeles. Chava Sanchez/LAist
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In a daily briefing that covered everything from the "sobering" impact on Los Angeles County businesses to the latest death toll, county leaders laid out how they are trying to weigh financial hardship and physical risks to guide the steps to reopening.

Supervisor Kathryn Barger reviewed some of the key figures from yesterday's meeting of the L.A. County Economic resilience Task Force. She noted:

  • 80% of jobs in the restaurant industry are gone
  • 890,000 film and entertainment employees are out of work, "which trickles down to many of the small businesses that provide support for this industry," Barger said.
  • More than 1 million unemployment claims have been filed in the county
  • Over 75% of people who lost jobs were earning less than $50,000 per year on average
"Anyone listening to yesterday's meeting heard loud and clear that employees and businesses are suffering," Barger said, adding:
"I understand the urgency to reopen quickly. But we must do it safely and public health guidance has to be at the [forefront of] what we do to ensure the safety and well-being of our residents."

Barger noted the task is complicated because the "county's economy is powered by small businesses and encompasses many distinct sectors, with their own needs, and with their own challenges."

The task force, she said, has brought those sector leaders together to help make decisions about reopening "because it's not a one-size-fits-all approach — and it isn't feasible for a county our size, and our diversity to do it alone."

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‘VIGILANCE IS STILL OUR MOST IMPORTANT WEAPON’

Dr. Christina Ghaly, who oversees the county's Department of Health Services, gave an update on the data modeling of transmission rates in L.A. County, which shows "an increasing downturn in the daily number of new cases."

While that's promising news, she cautioned it will only continue to go down if residents keep following public health guidelines on physical distancing, mask-wearing and sanitation. Why is that important? She explained that we might not immediately know that transmission is increasing again because:

  • People who are infected today will not be ill enough to seek medical care for two to four weeks.
  • By the time we notice an increase in cases, there will have been increased spread for a number of weeks
  • That would causing higher rates of infection and put a strain on our healthcare system and workers.
"Vigilance is still our most important weapon, and it is the steps that you've heard us describe again and again, of those basic core public health measures that will make all the difference."

Dr. Ghaly also presented some projections showing how wide the virus could spread depending on our collective efforts to limit transmission. For example, if the transmission rate were to return to the levels seen before stay-at-home orders were put in place, public health officials estimate 96% of county residents would be infected by Dec. 1.
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(Courtesy Los Angeles County Department of Public Health)
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BY THE NUMBERS

Los Angeles County officials reported 1,324 new confirmed cases of coronavirus today, bringing the total to at least 40,857 cases countywide. Long Beach is currently reporting 1,400 confirmed cases in total (38 of which are not yet reflected in the county totals) and Pasadena is reporting In total, 1,362 cases have been reported in Long Beach and 704 in Pasadena (those two cities operate their own health departments).

County Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer also reported 57 new deaths of COVID-19 patients. The total number of deaths countywide now stands at 1,970 people.

Of the 57 people who’ve died in the past 24 hours, 30 were over 65 and, of those victims, 24 had underlying health conditions, Ferrer said. Twelve victims were between 41 and 65 and six of them had underlying health conditions. Two victims were between 18 and 40, and both had underlying health conditions.

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

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The death toll at institutional facilities in L.A. County — particularly at nursing homes — continues to climb. Ferrer reported that 1,033 residents at those facilities have died. Those victims account for 52% of all deaths countywide.

Ferrer also provided a racial breakdown of the confirmed deaths, based on information confirmed for 1,826 of the victims:

  • 12% African American [9% of county residents]
  • 18% Asian [15.4% of county residents]
  • 39% Latino / Latina [48.6% of county residents]
  • 29% White [26.1% of county residents]
  • 1% Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander [0.4% of county residents]
  • 1% identified as belonging to a different race or ethnicity
Ferrer also noted the upcoming Memorial Day holiday encouraged everyone to use technology tools to be "together at a distance" rather than gaather in person. She warned:
“It's still relatively easy to become infected, particularly if you're not taking precautions — and unfortunately, there have been recent parties and gatherings that did result in a number of newly infected people."

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