L.A. County officials reported an additional 13 deaths due to the novel coronavirus, COVID-19 Thursday afternoon, bringing the county's death toll to 75.
Dr. Barbara Ferrer, the head of the county's Department of Public Health, also reported an additional 534 cases of COVID-19, bringing the county's total to 4,045. As of Wednesday afternoon, more than 23,300 people have been tested for the coronavirus, with about 13 percent of those testing positive.
At least 241 people in the L.A. County area are hospitalized, with 28 percent of those in the ICU. At least five of those in the ICU are under the age of 35, Ferrer said.
After Mayor Eric Garcetti on Wednesday recommended that residents in Los Angeles begin going out in public wearing masks, Dr. Ferrer added to the recommendation, but added that just wearing a mask wasn't enough.
“It's really important that folks understand that while the guidance suggests that it would be beneficial to mask up when you're out and about, we're much clearer on the benefits that accrue if you do everything else we've asked you to do,” she said. “Most important is social distancing. You're not going to spread germs if you're not close to people. That six-foot barrier is essential for us to maintain, even if you're masked.
“I don't want people to get a sense of security, `Oh, I've covered my nose and mouth and now I can be out and about.' That is not what we're saying. You must keep that social distancing. The mask will not protect you 100 percent, particularly from infecting others, which is really all that they are appropriate for. You need to wash your hands. Washing your hands is still the most appropriate action you can take to prevent germs from getting inside you. So wash your hands. Don't touch your face unless your hands are clean.”
Dr. Ferrer stressed that people not purchase hospital-grade surgical masks, which are desperately needed by frontline workers. People are being encouraged to use scarves or other types of fabric, and to go online to learn how to fashion their own homemade mask.
“They're very simple to make. There's nothing fancy about them,” she said.
The number of confirmed cases around the Southland include:
- Los Angeles County: 4,045 cases - 66 deaths
- Orange County: 656 cases - 13 deaths
- Riverside County: 429 cases - 13 deaths
- Ventura County: 160 cases - 5 deaths
- San Bernardino County: 254 cases - 6 deaths
- San Diego County: 849 cases - 15 deaths.
Statewide, there are more than 10,080 cases with at least 219 deaths reported. Health officials say there are more than 236,339 cases nationwide with the death toll reaching 5,600 Thursday afternoon.