The coronavirus
The coronavirus is pictured in this electron microscope image. Courtesy NIH

Los Angeles County has crossed a pair of grim milestones, surpassing 150,000 coronavirus cases since the pandemic began, while also passing the 4,000 mark in deaths.

Another 2,885 infections were confirmed by county officials Friday. Health officials in Long Beach announced another 82 cases and Pasadena added 23 more.

The new cases gave the county a total of 150,424 throughout the pandemic.

Another 62 deaths were reported Friday, although one of those fatalities was announced Thursday by Long Beach, which reported one more fatality Friday. The new deaths lifted the overall county total to 4,048.

The figures capped a dreary week that saw the county twice set daily records for new cases. On Thursday, the county reported a pandemic single-day high of 4,592 cases, topping the record of 4,244 set just two days earlier.

The number of people hospitalized due to the virus also remained high Friday, with Garcetti reporting a total of 2,188 patients, up slightly from Thursday and still among the highest figures of the pandemic.

Spiking case numbers have health officials pleading with the public to adhere to health orders by avoiding large gatherings, wearing face coverings and distancing themselves from others while in public.

“Without aggressive action on the part of every person, we will not get back to slowing the spread,” public health director Barbara Ferrer said in a statement Thursday.

She and county the Health Officer, Dr. Muntu Davis, both said businesses also 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 has risen to 375 among 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.

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