For third day in a row, LA County reports highest number of COVID-19 deaths in single day

For the third day in a row, Los Angeles County on Thursday reported its highest number of coronavirus deaths in a single day.

The county's health department reported 55 new deaths, surpassing the 40 deaths reported Tuesday and Wednesday.

The county initially reported 42 deaths on Wednesday, but Los Angeles County Public Health Director Dr. Barbara Ferrer specified on Thursday that two of the deaths reported were found to be out of the county's jurisdiction.

“The increase this week on the number of deaths attributed to COVID-19 is distressing and a stark reminder of the devastation caused by COVID-19,” said Ferrer.

Of the deaths reported Thursday, 43 individuals were over the age of 65, 39 of which had underlying health conditions. Nine individuals who died with underlying health conditions were between the ages of 41 and 65. The information about the remaining deaths was not immediately available, Ferrer said.

Get breaking news alerts in the FOX 11 News app. Download for iOS or Android.

The county also reported 399 new COVID-19 cases, bringing the total number of confirmed cases in the county to 10,854.

Both Gov. Gavin Newsom, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti and Ferrer this week discussed benchmarks that are being scrutinized to determine when stay-at-home and business-closure orders prompted by the virus might be lifted.

Although such a move is still likely weeks away, Ferrer said continued adherence to the orders will help the region get to that point sooner.

But she again warned that a lifting of orders will not mean a return to normalcy.

"Every day we're getting closer to being able to see a time when more people are going to be able to go back to work and there will be more places that will be open," she said. "We're never going to be able to go back to exactly the way it was before COVID-19, but we are moving towards being on the other side of this pandemic. I want to thank you again for all you are doing to slow the spread of COVID-19. It is working and I hope you feel very proud of what you're accomplishing."

Echoing guidance from the White House, last week, Ferrer said people should try to avoid leaving their homes altogether for the next few weeks as the pandemic is expected to worsen across the country. 

"If you have enough supplies in your home, this would be the week to skip shopping altogether," she said.

RELATED: Health officials advice to avoid grocery stores, pharmacies as peak of COVID-19 pandemic looms

Public Health advised residents against leaving their homes for groceries or medications, encouraging residents to arrange to have them delivered instead, if necessary.

Public Health continues to stress to the public that while a majority of those who have died from COVID-19 in the county had underlying health conditions, not everyone does. Residents are urged to continue to take the necessary precautions in order to protect themselves from the virus.

Health officials say that social distancing remains our best defense against the virus, and all residents are instructed to abide by current measures in place across the state. Social distancing is not only about preventing the illness itself, but rather, slowing the rate at which people get sick. 

On April 3, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced that it would be recommending people wear cloth face coverings in public settings where other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain, such as grocery stores and pharmacies, especially in areas of significant community-based transmission.

The use of face coverings is believed to help slow the spread of the virus and help people who may have the virus, without knowing it, from transmitting it to others.

The face coverings can be made at home from common materials at low cost, and the CDC has instructions on how to make them listed on its website

RELATED: LA County extends safer-at-home order, business-closure orders to May 15

Last week, the county extended its "safer-at-home" order until May 15. The health order now requires all residents in Los Angeles County to wear a face-covering when entering an essential business. It also requires all essential business employees to wear a face-covering if their work involves interacting with others.

RELATED: Face coverings required at L.A. County businesses starting Thursday

This comes as more evidence is emerging that coronavirus infections are being spread by people who have no clear symptoms. Recently, the CDC changed how it was defining risk of infection for Americans, saying anyone may be a considered a carrier, whether they have symptoms or not.

RELATED: Asymptomatic coronavirus cases appear to be on the rise in China, report says

In accordance with new guidelines from the CDC, Public Health said that anyone who begins to experience symptoms must contact those they were in contact with up to 48 hours prior to having symptoms in order for them to self-isolate.

Public Health requests that anyone who experiences any symptoms of COVID-19 to self-isolate for the 14-day quarantine period in order to help slow the spread.

On Monday, Ferrer clarified for the public that those who have tested positive for the coronavirus, those who have symptoms and those who are waiting for test results need to self-isolate for seven days and an additional 72-hours after fever and symptoms subside.

According to the CDC, symptoms of the virus include fever, coughing and shortness of breath. Anyone who experiences these symptoms should call their healthcare provider or local public health department first before seeking medical care so that appropriate precautions can be taken.

RELATED:, FOX launches national hub for COVID-19 news and updates. 

Public Health has issued the following guidance during this time of increased spread:

"If you are mildly sick, stay home for at least seven days or until 72 hours after being fever free, whichever is longer. Call your doctor if you are concerned and/or your symptoms worsen. Individuals who are elderly, have underlying health conditions or pregnant should consider contacting their providers earlier when they are sick."

Click here for a list of locations of confirmed coronavirus cases in Los Angeles County.

CNS contributed to this report.