LA County coronavirus deaths, new cases and hospitalizations continue to increase

Los Angeles County officials on Wednesday announced 2,496 additional cases of novel coronavirus as well as 65 new deaths, bringing the totals to 123,004 cases and 3,642 deaths.

Of the newly reported deaths, 34 were individuals over the age of 65, 33 of which had underlying health conditions. Twenty-three people who died were between the ages of 41 and 65, 13 of which had underlying health conditions. Five people who died were between the ages of 18 and 40, four of which had underlying health conditions.

“Tragically, we do expect that more of our loved ones and neighbors may die of COVID-19 in the coming weeks," said county Public Health Director, Dr. Barbara Ferrer.

“Our cases are rising, the rate of infection is increasing and the number of hospitalizations are up," Ferrer added.

Some officials have attributed the rise in overall cases to increases in testing, but county officials said repeatedly in recent days that the metrics clearly demonstrate an increase in community spread of COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus.

With test results now available for more than 1.2 million individuals, 9% are testing positive in the county. The seven-day average of the daily positivity rate is back up to 10.4%, a rate that Los Angeles County hasn’t seen since late-April.

County Supervisor Hilda Solis said that metrics show that roughly 1 in 140 LA County residents are believed to be infected with COVID-19, some of them without any symptoms, who are likely unknowingly infecting other people.

Solis said that is a stark increase from the 1 in every 400 LA County residents believed to be infected a few weeks ago.

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"Cases are surging, hospitalizations are increasing and mostly, this is all a reflection of a lot more community spread," Ferrer said earlier this week.

Health officials acknowledged the problem of quarantine fatigue, noting that residents are anxious to get back to normal life and may see the reopening of businesses across the county as a sign the virus is disappearing — leading to a lack of social distancing and a failure to wear face coverings.

In addition to the rise in case numbers, hospitalization rates are also on the rise. Governor Gavin Newsom said Monday that COVID-19 hospitalizations in the state are up 50% over the past 14 days, adding that patients who require beds in the intensive care unit have increased by 39%.

The county is also seeing the rise in hospitalizations. Ferrer said there are 2,004 individuals currently hospitalized in the county with the virus.

LA County beaches reopened to the public Monday following a weekend closure to discourage crowds and gatherings on the Fourth of July.

Last week, county health officials issued a revised health order to come into compliance with requirements announced earlier in the day by Newsom. The governor ordered the closure of many indoor business operations, most notably eliminating indoor dine-in service at restaurants. Also barred were indoor activities at museums, zoos, aquariums and card rooms.

RELATED: Gov. Newsom calls for immediate closure of indoor operations at sectors in 19 California counties

Those restrictions will be in effect for at least three weeks, Newsom said.

All bars, breweries, brewpubs, pubs, wineries and tasting rooms in the county were also closed by a governor's order last Sunday. County officials previously noted that on the weekend of June 20, roughly 500,000 people visited bars and nightlife spots.

RELATED: Gov. Newsom orders bars to close in several California counties as coronavirus cases rise

Ferrer said that there are ways each individual person can help slow the spread of the virus, such as wearing a face-covering when you're around other people, avoiding crowds and washing your hands frequently to prevent passing along the infection or getting infected yourself.

“We all need to remember that we do get to play a role in preventing there from being spikes and infections… The truth of the matter is, this is actually a virus where we can do a lot to prevent the transmission of ourselves, as individual people and businesses can do a lot,” she said.

Ferrer said residents need to take the call to leave home only for essentials seriously.

RELATED: Dr. Barbara Ferrer says she's concerned about the spike in COVID-19 cases in LA County

"At this point, if you're not part of the solution to slowing the spread, you're ending up being part of the problem," Ferrer said.

Recently, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention expanded the list of symptoms of the virus. Congestion or runny nose, nausea, and diarrhea were added, joining the federal agency's list that already included fever or chills, cough, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, fatigue, muscle or body aches, headache, new loss of taste or smell and sore throat.

RELATED: CDC adds another 3 new coronavirus symptoms to the list

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.

On June 18, the California Department of Public Health issued new guidelines mandating face coverings in most situations while indoors, but also outside when a person cannot maintain six feet of social distance.

RELATED: California governor orders people to wear masks in most indoor spaces

There are exemptions that include children age two and younger because of the risk of suffocation, and for people with a variety of medical or psychological issues that make mask-wearing a hazard.

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

Public Health continues to remind 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.

In LA County, approximately 93% of all residents who died from the virus had underlying health conditions. Ferrer said this emphasizes the county's need to protect those with underlying health conditions and urges those residents to stay at home as much as possible.

She said this includes, but is not limited to, individuals with asthma, those who have had cancer, anyone with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and anyone who is immune-compromised.

"If you're part of one of these groups, you need to take every precaution imaginable to protect yourself from COVID-19," said Ferrer.

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. 

RELATED: Stay up to date on all coronavirus-related information 

The county's health department says that because of the COVID-19 pandemic and the risk of widespread transmission, everyone should always wear a face-covering securely over their nose and mouth and keep six feet apart from others not in their household when out and about.

Health officials say coronavirus infections are being spread by people who have no clear symptoms. In early April, 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

Public Health says that the best protection against COVID-19 is to wash your hands frequently, avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands, self-isolate if you are sick, practice physical distancing and wear a clean face covering when in contact with others from outside your household.

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

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

CNS contributed to this report.