Los Angeles County health officials on Wednesday reported another 11 deaths due to the COVID-19 coronavirus, bringing the county's total to 65. Dr. Barbara Ferrer, the head of the county's health department also announced an additional 513 coronavirus cases, bringing the county's total to 3,518.
At least nine of the 11 deaths reported Wednesday were people over the age of 65, Ferrer said, adding that one person was between 18 and 40 and another was between 41 and 65. At least nine of the people who died had underlying health conditions.
At least five of the newly confirmed cases of COVID-19 were among homeless people, however, Ferrer said there have been no deaths reported among the homeless community from COVID-19.
“I want to stress that people in the hospital are dispersed among all age categories, and there are a significant number of people who are requiring hospital care who do not have underlying health conditions,” Ferrer said.
Health officials are also investigating news that 43 coronavirus cases have been found at 43 "institutional settings" - like nursing homes, skilled nursing centers, assisted living facilities, residential treatment programs, shelters, jails and prisons. There have been a total of 207 cases at the 43 different facilities, with seven of those having died.
News that asymptomatic people may spread the disease also prompted Ferrer to say that people may benefit from wearing a homemade mask when they go out in public.
“What they do is they can prevent droplets from coming out of our mouths and potentially infecting others,” she said. “Remember this is a disease that's spread with respiratory droplets. Sometimes when you talk, some droplets can come out. If you wear that mask, especially now that we know you could be spreading even if you have no symptoms, you would reduce the number of droplets carrying a virus, potentially, from getting onto somebody else.
“But wearing a mask is not a shield, and it doesn't replace our request that you stay at home, that you always are practicing social distancing, that you're using handwashing as your major means to make sure you're not infecting yourself after touching something or someone who may be infected, and that you're self-isolating and self-quarantined when it's appropriate.
“It's just another tool that we can add to our list of tools that are available to help us to prevent infecting others and help others from (infecting) us.”
While experts say there may be a benefit in using homemade masks, like bandannas or scarfs, to curb the spread of the disease, Ferrer said people shouldn't rush out to find an N95 mask.
"There’s really no benefit at all for anybody in the public to need to go out and secure an N95 mask. They are in short supply. They’re needed by health care workers desperately," Ferrer says. "Please don’t go out and try to get N95s."
"Staying home and social distancing are the most important tools we have now that we know that asymptomatic people can in fact transmit the virus,” Ferrer said Wednesday afternoon.
The number of confirmed cases around the Southland include:
- Los Angeles County: 3,518 cases - 54 deaths
- Orange County: 606 cases - 10 deaths
- Riverside County: 371 cases - 13 deaths
- Ventura County: 149 cases - 5 deaths
- San Bernardino County: 183 cases - 6 deaths
- San Diego County: 733 cases - 9 deaths.
Statewide, there are more than 8,841 cases with at least 187 deaths reported. Health officials say there are more than 209,000 cases nationwide with the death toll reaching 4,600 Wednesday afternoon.