Testing for coronavirus
Lab technicians test for coronavirus. Courtesy California Department of Public Health

Another 38 deaths due to the coronavirus were reported in Los Angeles County, and health officials again urged people participating in protests to take precautions against spreading the virus.

The 38 deaths — one of which was actually reported Wednesday by health officials in Long Beach — lifted the countywide total number of fatalities during the pandemic to 5,701.

County officials also announced another 1,636 new cases of the virus, while Long Beach reported 83 and Pasadena added 11. Long Beach and Pasadena both have their own health departments separate from the county.

The new cases lifted the countywide total since the pandemic began to 237,080.

As of Thursday, there were 1,168 people hospitalized due to the virus, continuing the downward trajectory seen through much of August.

Although coronavirus cases, deaths and hospitalizations have been declining, the county Department of Public Health continued to warn residents not to become lax in following preventive guidelines, such as wearing face coverings and social distancing.

In a statement, the agency recognized the resurgence of protests in recent days, fueled by the Wisconsin police shooting of Jacob Blake, along with possible gatherings to mark the 50th anniversary of the Chicano Moratorium.

The county urged people planning to take part in such events to stay home if they are sick, seek medical attention if they are displaying COVID-19 symptoms, wear a face covering, try to maintain physical distance from others, bring along hand sanitizer and keep your hands clean.

“As we head into another summer weekend, please remember how important it is to continue taking all the steps we know work to lower the transmission of COVID-19,” public health director Barbara Ferrer said in a statement. “Let’s work together to prevent fun at the beach, picnicking in our parks, worshiping with our congregation or attending peaceful protests from resulting in more transmission of COVID-19.

“When you are outside, for any activity where others are around, please wear a face covering at all times and keep at least six feet of distance from anyone not in your household,” she said. “This is the best way we can care for and protect the people around us.”

Ferrer noted Wednesday that the county’s 14-day average daily rate of new cases stood at 198 per 100,000 residents, still well above the state benchmark of 100 cases per 100,000. Being below 200 cases per 100,000 residents, however, makes the county eligible to consider waiver applications from schools and school districts interested in resuming in-person instruction.

But Ferrer said county officials still need to review newly released protocols from the state about school reopenings and gatherings of young children before opening the waiver process.

Health services director Dr. Christina Ghaly said the county’s transmission rate — the average number of people that a coronavirus patient infects — stood at 0.92 as of Wednesday. She said as long as that figure remains below one, “we can expect that cases will continue to gradually decrease over time.”

Ghaly also put out a call to residents interested in taking part in a clinical trial of a possible vaccine that will be conducted at Harbor-UCLA Medical Center. She encouraged anyone interested to enroll online at helpstopcovid.la.

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