LOS ANGELES - The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Los Angeles County surpassed the 20,000 mark on Monday, officials said, as they announced 900 new cases and 29 new deaths, bringing the totals to 20,417 cases and 942 deaths.
Of the newly reported deaths, 25 were individuals over the age of 65, 18 of which had underlying health conditions. Three individuals were between the ages of 41 and 65, one of which had underlying health conditions. The data on the remaining case was not immediately available.
Of those who died, information about race and ethnicity is available for 865 people (98 percent of the cases); 37% of deaths occurred among Latinx residents, 28% among white residents, 18% among Asian residents, 14% among African American residents, 1% among Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander residents and 1% among residents identifying with other races.
African Americans, Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander, and people living in communities with high levels of poverty continue to have the highest rate of death per 100,000 people for COVID-19 when compared to other groups. The death rate is roughly three times higher for residents in those high poverty areas, the county's Public Health Director, Dr. Barbara Ferrer stated Monday. She said that the county is continuing its efforts to bring COVID-19 awareness and testing to underserved communities.
To date, Public Health says that more than 123,000 residents in the county have been tested for COVID-19, with about a 14% positive rate.
Over the weekend, high temperatures put a strain on beach and park restrictions enacted to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. Officials stressed to the public that beaches and parks remained closed throughout Los Angeles, but that didn't stop people from flocking to the coastline in neighboring Orange County, where some beaches were open.
"These closures are part of protecting the public's health and helping avoid a steep rise in COVID-19 cases like the country has seen in New York City," Santa Monica officials said in a weekend statement. "Currently, L.A. County is experiencing a more gradual increase in cases as a result of the stay at home orders and physical distancing. Residents can go outside for a walk or to a local park, but everyone is encouraged to stay close to home as much as possible."
Officials with the Los Angeles Police Department and the Santa Monica Police Department said they focused their efforts on educating the public about the beach closures as opposed to issuing tickets. Police in beach cities south of LAX said much the same, although Manhattan Beach police reported issuing some citations to people who refused to leave the beach.
County officials on Friday detailed the prerequisites that will need to be met before the county relaxes its "Safer-At-Home" order.
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.
On April 10, 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.
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.
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.
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.
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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.