Five more deaths from COVID-19 and 332 new cases were announced by Los Angeles County health officials Sunday, bringing the county’s totals to 2,136 cased and 37 deaths.
No further information was released about the latest fatalities, but five of the six deaths reported Saturday occurred in people over the age of 60, and one was between 50 and 60 years old. Two of those people did not have any reported underlying health conditions, according to officials.
“Our hearts and prayers go out to all the families and friends of individuals who have died. I ask that everyone please do your part to not infect others or become infected yourself by adhering to the public health directives and practicing social distancing,” said Dr. Barbara Ferrer, director of Los Angeles County Public Health. “More than ever, it is crucial that we practice social distancing, and if we are sick, even with mild illness, make every effort to self-isolate from others for at least 7 days and 3 more days after being symptom free. … Those who have been in close contact with a person who is positive for COVID-19 should self-quarantine for 14 days. If we all commit ourselves to stay home, stay away from others when sick, and stay 6 feet apart when out, we will save lives.”
Ferrer said 453 COVID-19 patients — or 21% of the county’s positive cases — have been hospitalized.
Earlier, officials said 24 Los Angeles Police Department employees and six members of the Los Angeles Fire Department have tested positive for COVID-19.
“All of these individuals are self-isolating at home and recovering,” spokeswoman Jessica Kellogg said.
No further information about those patients was released.
As the grim numbers came in, Angelenos were for the most part adhering to the county’s order to stay off beaches and nature trails to slow the spread of the virus.
“Law enforcement agencies have been reporting to us that they have no results to anything punitive,” Los Angeles County spokesman Steve Frasher told City News Service on Saturday. “People that overlooked (the ban) or were a little clueless have been talked to and have come into compliance.
“People have been willing to do the right thing for the most part. They just needed a gentle reminder,” Frasher said.
One exception occurred Saturday in Manhattan Beach, where a surfer who refused to exit the water when prompted by lifeguards was given a citation.
Manhattan Beach Police Sgt. Justin Hidalgo said the man was cited for surfing within a restricted area because a county lifeguard had put out the “blackball” flag (yellow flag with a black circle in the middle of it) and he still decided to surf.
Hidalgo said it was unclear what the fine is because a judge, through the court process, would have to determine the amount.
Most of the county’s individual coastal cities had already closed off beaches, parking lots and pathways over the last week, and the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area closed of all its facilities on March 22.
County officials took the extra step of a full shutdown on Friday. That closure is in effect until April 19.
“I ask that you help us by not going to our beaches and not going to our hiking trails, at least for the next few weeks,” Ferrer said. ” … Many of our parks do remain open so there are opportunities for people to go outside and enjoy our beautiful county, but only if we practice social distancing.”
County Supervisor Kathryn Barger echoed the sentiment, saying, “We want you to keep enjoying the outdoor space, but please remember to use common sense.”
The county’s mortality rate from the illness has risen above the levels seen across the country and in New York City, which has been particularly hard-hit by the virus, Ferrer said. Of the people who have tested positive for the virus in Los Angeles County, 1.8% have died. She said that is a higher mortality rate than the nation as a whole, and above that seen in New York City, which has a rate of about 1.4%.
Ferrer also identified three “institutional settings” — such as nursing homes or long-term care facilities — where outbreaks have occurred. An outbreak is defined as three or more cases among patients or staff. The three locations with outbreaks are:
— The Kensington Redondo Beach;
— Belmont Village in Hollywood; and
— Alameda Care Center in Burbank.
Ferrer stressed “there have been no deficiencies identified at these facilities,” saying COVID-19 “knows no boundaries” and can be “imported and exported wherever there are people.” She said no deaths have been reported at any of the three facilities.
Also Sunday, officials unveiled four online dashboards that map L.A. County’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The dashboards cover case counts and deaths; emergency proclamations; parks and recreation closures and service updates’ and school closures. They can be found at covid19.lacounty.gov/dashboards.