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Going To Church And Shopping In Stores Can Resume In LA County, But There's 'A Lot At Stake'

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Los Angeles County's coronavirus task force delivered an update on the COVID-19 pandemic, including details on new reopening guidelines. Read highlights below or watch the full video above.

Los Angeles County officials reported 993 new confirmed cases of coronavirus today, bringing the total to at least 48,700 cases countywide. In total, 1,605 cases have been reported in Long Beach and 883 in Pasadena (those two cities operate their own health departments).

County Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer also reported 53 new deaths of COVID-19 patients. The total number of deaths countywide now stands at 2,195 people.

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Of the 53 people who’ve died in the past 24 hours, 35 were over 65 and, of those victims, 30 had underlying health conditions, Ferrer said. Fourteen victims were between 41 and 65; 12 of them had underlying health conditions. Two victims were between 18 and 40; one of them had an underlying health condition.

So far, 93% of those who have died had underlying health conditions, Ferrer said.

The death toll at institutional facilities in L.A. County continues to climb and now accounts for 53% of all deaths countywide. Ferrer reported that 1,166 people living at those facilities have died. Of those victims, 88% were nursing home residents.

The number of health care providers and first responders who have been infected jumped by more than 560 cases since last week, Ferrer said.

As of today, 4,861 health care workers and first responders who work in L.A. County have confirmed cases of COVID-19. Ferrer said the vast majority of cases — about 44% of all cases countywide — "are among healthcare workers from skilled nursing facilities and hospitals staff at skilled nursing facilities." Thirty health care workers have now died from COVID-19, she added.

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‘A LOT AT STAKE AS WE REOPEN’

The L.A. County Health Officer issued a revised order yesterday to align with new state reopening guidelines. That means residents can begin returning to houses and worship and in-store shopping at retail businesses that choose to reopen. That includes indoor shopping malls, flea markets and swap meets — as well as drive-in movie theaters.

The number of people allowed inside will be limited, though. Occupancy at houses of worship will be set at 25%, or a maximum of 100 people. Retail businesses, including malls and shopping centers, have been ordered to operate at 50% customer capacity.

Ferrer said the decision to lift more restrictions was guided by the progress made to flatten the curve, noting that the rates of hospitalizations, deaths and the positive cases are down. The total number of confirmed cases continues to rise, “but that's a good thing,” Ferrer said, “because it just means a lot more people are getting tested.”

But Ferrer reiterated that there’s “a lot at stake as we reopen,” and mentioned the three “cardinal rules” for everyone to follow as the recovery process moves forward:

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  • Keep wearing face coverings in public and maintain six feet of distance
  • Anyone who is showing symptoms or who tests positive should self-isolate for at least 10 days
  • Anyone who had contact with someone known to be infected should self-quarantine for 14 days (the incubation period of the virus)

“[These are] the steps that we're taking because we feel confident with all of the support that we have from our communities that we can in fact you know move forward on a recovery journey aligned with the state,” Ferrer said.
She provided one scenario for what could happen if we’re not careful:

“If there are 2 million more people going to offices, stores and houses of worship now, and even 2% are infected with COVID-19, we would have 40,000 people moving about that are capable of spreading this virus. And if each infected person transmits to even just one other person, there could be 80,000 people infected over a couple of weeks. And if we assume that 5% of people who are infected with COVID-19 may need to be hospitalized, that would be 4,000 additional folks that would need a hospital bed without taking a lot of care to make sure infected people do not infect others, we could easily get to a place where the hospitals are overwhelmed.”

BY THE NUMBERS

Ferrer also provided a racial breakdown of the confirmed deaths, based on information confirmed for 2,024 of the victims. According to the latest available information:

  • 12% African American [9% of county residents]
  • 17% Asian [15.4% of county residents]
  • 40% 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

Here are some other key figures being reported today:

  • More than 517,000 people have been tested for COVID-19 and had their results reported to L.A. county health officials. Of those tests, 8% have been positive.
  • There are currently 1,477 people hospitalized with COVID-19. Of those individuals, 27% are in the ICU, with 19% on ventilators. Ferrer noted officials continue to see “slight decreases in the number of people that are hospitalized.”
  • In total 6,283 people who've tested positive for coronavirus in L.A. County have "at some point" been hospitalized, Ferrer said, which represents about 13% of all positive cases.
  • The county health department is currently investigating 440 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 there are 11,772 confirmed cases in those facilities — 7,492 residents and 4,280 staff members.
  • Ferrer said 363 cases have been confirmed among L.A. County residents experiencing homelessness — 181 of whom were sheltered, Ferrer said.
  • There have now been 779 confirmed cases “at some point in time” in county jail facilities, Ferrer reported. In total, 607 inmates and 172 staff members have tested positive.

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