Los Angeles County reported 2,770 new cases of COVID-19 Saturday and 37 more deaths, raising the countywide totals to 153,041 cases and 4,084 fatalities.
There are currently 2,188 confirmed cases hospitalized, 28% of whom are in the ICU, and 18% on ventilators. This marks the fourth consecutive day of more than 2,100 confirmed cases in hospitals.
Testing results are available for more than 1.49 million people, with 9% of them testing positive. Data continues to show people between the ages of 18 and 40 being hospitalized at a higher rate than at any point during the pandemic. More than 11,000 children and teens have been infected with COVID-19.
Of the 37 people who died Saturday — excluding Long Beach and Pasadena — 25 were over the age of 65, nine were between 41 and 65, and two were between 18 and 40. In addition, 31 of the fatalities had underlying health conditions. Thus far, 92% of the fatalities have had underlying health conditions. Of those who died, information about race and ethnicity is available for 3,801 people (99% of the cases reported by Public Health). The findings are that 47% of deaths occurred among Latinx residents, 26% among white residents, 15% among Asian residents, 11% among Black residents, less than 1% among Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander residents and 1% among residents identifying with other races. Upon further investigation, 48 cases reported earlier were not county residents.
“For the families that are experiencing the profound grief of losing a loved one to COVID-19, we grieve with you and you are in my thoughts,” said L.A. County Director of Public Health Barbara Ferrer. “We continue to see concerning data, including data that shows us that younger people are contributing to the increased spread of COVID-19.
“We are all experiencing the frustration from this pandemic, but I ask that we each behave with kindness and consider that we can all prevent sickness and death. Although this is another beautiful weekend in Los Angeles County, I urge our residents to wear their face coverings and keep away from crowds and people they don’t live with,” Ferrer said.
She invoked Gov. Gavin Newsom, who has said that until we reduce the disease’s rate of transmission in the county, it is too dangerous for schools to reopen for in-person classroom instruction.
“Let’s get back to working together to slow the spread and continue our recovery journey,” Ferrer said.
Ferrer and L.A. County Health Officer Dr. Muntu Davis said businesses need to do more to protect workers, with Davis saying workplaces have seen sharp increases in virus transmissions.
Davis said inspectors over the past few months have been responding to 2,000 to 3,000 complaints a week about potential health protocol violations at workplaces.
Dozens of workplace outbreaks are under investigation, the largest of which continues to be at the Los Angeles Apparel garment-manufacturing facilities in South Los Angeles, Davis said. Health officials reported last week that 300 employees at the plant had tested positive for the coronavirus, and four people have died.
Davis said Thursday the number of confirmed cases at the facility had risen to 375 of the company’s 2,290 employees.
“The manufacturer is still closed pending some additional activities to bring them into compliance and for us to finish investigating any potential contacts that may still need to be under quarantine at that location,” he said.
Workplaces most susceptible to outbreaks are food-processing companies and distribution facilities, including meat-packing plants, manufacturers, garment factories and wholesale warehouses, he said.
“These workplaces have several things in common,” he said. “They’re large employers with large numbers of low-wage workers, and they have workers who are spending long shifts together in close proximity and in indoor spaces.”
Those situations have contributed to the data showing that “Black and Latino residents and people in high-poverty areas are bearing the brunt of this virus.”
He also said many employers are still falling short of meeting operating protocols, saying the county is “not seeing compliance that we need with the public health director directives being in place to keep people’s health and livelihood safe.”
“Businesses have a corporate, moral and social responsibility to their employees to provide a safe work environment,” he said. “They must adhere to all the health officer directives. People’s health, lives and livelihoods are at stake.”
Davis noted that while the county is receiving and responding to thousands of workplace complaints a week, some workers may be reluctant to come forward due to fear of retaliation from their employers. He said the county has a hotline workers can call to safely report possible violations, at 800-700-9995.
In general, employers voluntarily come into compliance once they are visited by inspectors, Davis said, and it is very rare for the county to resort to large fines or possible criminal prosecution.
Davis’ comments came a day after the county announced a 65% expansion of its testing capacity, focused solely on under-served communities. The county’s medical services director, Dr. Christina Ghaly, said new sites were being established in Montebello, South Gate, Azusa, Panorama City, Compton and Downey-Norwalk. She said existing sites were being expanded in Bellflower, Pomona, El Monte and East Los Angeles.
Garcetti said Friday the city is still teetering on the edge of a “red” coronavirus alert level, which would trigger stricter local stay-at-home orders and potentially more business closures.