COVID-19 testing
Drive-through COVID-19 testing in Pomoma. Courtesy OnScene.TV

The number of coronavirus cases in Los Angeles County stood at 27,866 Wednesday morning, with 1,315 fatalities.

The number of positive cases surged by more than 1,600 Tuesday, one of the largest single-day jumps during the pandemic, due in part to a lag in testing data that typically occurs over the weekend and the increase in the availability of testing, according to Barbara Ferrer, director of the county’s Department of Public Health.

A total of 51 new COVID-19 cases were reported in Long Beach and Pasadena, both of which have their own departments.

Of the 1,201 people who died for which ethnic data was available, 38% were Latino, 28% were white, 19% Asian, 12% black and 1% Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander.

Nearly half of the county’s COVID-19 deaths, 49%, have occurred in institutional settings, primarily skilled nursing facilities. Ferrer said there have been 647 deaths among residents of such facilities. At least one confirmed or suspected case was being investigated at 342 institutions as of midday Tuesday. Ferrer noted that investigations at 19 other facilities had been closed because no new cases at those locations have been reported in the past 14 days.

There have been 199 cases reported among the county’s homeless population, 109 of which involved people who were in shelters — the vast majority of them at the Union Rescue Mission on Skid Row in downtown Los Angeles.

Gov. Gavin Newsom on Monday announced that the state will be relaxing its stay-at-home order at the end of the week, allowing lower-risk retail businesses to reopen with limited operations, primarily restricted to curbside pickup. He’s expected to make announcements Thursday.

Although the state will be issuing guidelines for such businesses to reopen, individual counties will still have the ability to maintain tighter restrictions depending on the virus’ local impact. Los Angeles County has been particularly hard-hit, accounting for roughly half of the state’s cases and deaths, while inhabited by only about a quarter of the population.

Ferrer said Tuesday that the county will be releasing details soon on a “road map” for businesses, but it remained unclear if the county will be more restrictive than the state in terms of business restrictions.

“The county’s approach to reopening is guided by the science and by the current status of our pandemic locally. And we’re all looking forward to businesses reopening and getting back to work, and we all know we’re going to be on a slow journey together so we can continue to save lives and prevent overwhelming our health care system,” Ferrer said.

She again noted that the decision-making will depend on factors such as availability of hospital space and equipment, the availability of tewhich would force the county “to have to go back and tell businesses to close again.”

“We have to do everything we can to be on a steady, slow path to recovery that makes sense for L.A. County,” she said.

She said planning for businesses to reopen will likely be in conjunction with Newsom’s anticipated guidelines, but she said she could not yet offer any specifics of what local retailers can expect.

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