COVID-19 deaths continue to mount in Los Angeles County, with 40 new deaths reported Saturday, along with nearly 1,100 new cases.

Of the 40 deaths, 33 were people over the age of 65, nine were between the ages of 41 and 65, and one was between 18 and 40, county health officials said.

Also, 34 of the 40 had underlying health conditions, including 25 who were over age 65.

To date, County Public Health has identified 37,303 positive cases and 1,793 deaths, with 92% of the people who died having underlying health conditions.

As of Saturday, 5,784 people or 16% of positive cases have been hospitalized, officials said.

With more businesses opening and the weather improving, head of the public health department, Barbara Ferrer, warned residents of gathering with friends and family, while acknowledging it will occur.

“Seeing friends, we’re not recommending that at this point in time,” Ferrer said. “We are recommending that you continue to do your distancing in the ways that we’ve recommended before.”

“We do appreciate that there are circumstances where you may be around some other people,” she said, adding that in those circumstances, “We do recommend you’re at least keeping that six-foot distance and that you’re using a cloth face covering to try to protect other people, and they should do the same to protect you.”

Despite the ever-increasing numbers, Ferrer again stressed that the rate of the virus’ spread has been slowed by the county’s Safer At Home orders mandating face masks, social distancing and asking people to remain home as much as possible.

She echoed numbers from Thursday, showing that on average, people infected with the virus are in turn infecting one other person. That’s down from an initial rate of three other people per patient.

“And that’s only because of all of the work that you’ve done,” Ferrer said. “So I ask you to continue to practice physical distancing, continue to wear your cloth face coverings when you’re among other people because these actions work. This is your way of keeping other people safe.”

Dr. Christina Ghaly, the county’s health services director, said Thursday that if social distancing and other restrictions had not been imposed, the coronavirus outbreak would be far worse.

“If everyone across Los Angeles County had not honored the Safer At Home health officer order, then we would be in the midst of a public health disaster the likes of which none of us would like to be experiencing, and that would be difficult to imagine,” she said.

Recreational facilities in the county such as equestrian centers, tennis and pickleball courts and community gardens were allowed to reopen Friday, with restrictions including face coverings, social distancing and limits on numbers of visitors. The county this week also authorized all retail businesses to reopen for curbside or door-side pickups, with the exception of retailers inside enclosed shopping malls.

Face coverings and social distancing is also required at the retail businesses, with no customers permitted inside stores.

Ferrer on Friday also clarified differing orders imposed by Los Angeles city and the county regarding face coverings. The city of Los Angeles announced an order Wednesday that requires residents to wear face coverings whenever they are outside their homes.

The county order, however, is not as strict, requiring only that residents wear face coverings in proximity to others who are not members of their households. Ferrer also issued a warning to people engaging in rigorous exercise while wearing a mask.

“If you’re out in hot weather and you’re exerting yourself … if you are going to be around a lot of other people, you have to take a lot of care because it can be dangerous if you’re running hard, for example, if you have that cloth face covering over your mouth and your nose because it does make it more difficult for you to breathe.

“We encourage people who want to do exertion that’s going to task their lungs to please do that in a solitary way. Go for a solitary run so that you’re not around other people.”

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