LA County sees deadliest day in COVID-19 pandemic with 81 deaths

In the deadliest day yet in the coronavirus pandemic, Los Angeles County officials on Saturday announced 81 new deaths from the virus and 642 additional cases, for a total of 576 deaths and 12,021 cases. 

"Today marks a very sad milestone for our County, we are reporting the highest number of COVID-19 deaths for any one day since the beginning of the pandemic, and our deepest condolences go out to each and every person grieving the loss of their loved ones," said Dr. Barbara Ferrer, director of the county Department of Public Health.  

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"In this last week, we have doubled the number of deaths that occurred among LA County residents. We are especially concerned about the overwhelming number of residents residing in our nursing homes who have passed away.

I have requested additional support from our state and federal partners so we can work together to ensure that our nursing homes are as safe as possible for residents and employees. This includes asking for supplementary staffing and PPE, increased ability to test residents and employees, and improvements in infection control capacity at nursing homes."  

Of the 576 deaths, 89% had underlying health conditions, Ferrer said.   Information about race and ethnicity was available for 498 victims, or 93%. Of those, 36% occurred among Latinx residents, 29% among white residents, 17% among Asian residents, 16% among African

American residents, and 3% among residents identifying with other races.

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As of Saturday, 3,280 people who tested positive for COVID-19 -- the disease caused by the coronavirus -- have been hospitalized at some point during their illness.  

Testing capacity continues to increase in the county, with results available for more than 76,000 individuals and 14% of people testing positive.  

On Friday, Ferrer said 20 nursing homes or care facilities have had outbreaks of 20 or more people testing positive, and the county has asked for help from state and federal officials to control the virus' spread and ensure affected facilities are fully staffed.  

"We have requested additional assistance from the Centers for disease control and the state to help us address the need for increased technical assistance at the large number of sites that have positive cases," Ferrer said.

"This is particularly technical assistance around being able to implement stringent infection-control processes, and also we've requested additional staffing to support the high rate of staff absences at some of the facilities, which again limits the ability of the staff to provide high-quality care.  

"We're also working with a handful of nursing home providers who have offered to help us set up sites that can service COVID-19-positive patients that need to reside at skilled nursing facilities and intermediate care facilities and are transitioning back, in many cases, from having stayed in a hospital for a few days," she said.  

Further underscoring that point, well over half of the skilled nursing facilities identified by California officials as having experienced one or more cases of COVID-19 are in Los Angeles County.  

Of the 261 facilities on the California Department of Health list, 148are located in Los Angels County. The department's website said the list is a snapshot representing 86%of the state's 1,224 skilled-nursing facilities that have reported data within the last 24 hours.  

Ferrer said Friday that 1,441 cases have been confirmed among healthcare workers in the county, 38% of them being nurses and 6% of the doctors.  

Five deaths have been confirmed among health care workers, three of them nurses. Three of the deaths involved skilled nursing facility workers, one was a correctional health worker and one worked in a hospital, Ferrer said.  

The county on Friday also announced the availability of free same-day testing for people who have symptoms of COVID-19, including fever, cough and difficulty breathing.

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