L.A. County Logs More Virus Deaths, Prepares For Stay-At-Home Easter

Daily Life In Los Angeles Amid Coronavirus Outbreak

LOS ANGELES (CNS) - Health officials reported 456 new cases of COVID- 19 and 25 additional deaths in Los Angeles County today, for a total of 8,873 cases and 265 deaths.

The numbers come as Angelenos prepare for an unusual Easter Sunday in which all county parks and nature areas will be closed to the public in an effort to prevent the further spread of the novel coronavirus.

“As people of different faiths come together this weekend, my thoughts and prayers are with all those who are experiencing loss, illness and distress associated with the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Dr. Barbara Ferrer, the county's director of public health. “I want to thank all our faith leaders who are tending to the spiritual needs of their members and exercising creative ways to ensure fellowship from a physical distance. And I want to express my gratitude to all the people of LA County who are finding ways of observing their faith while staying safe at home.”

As of Saturday, 2,172 people who tested positive for COVID-19 (24% of positive cases) have been hospitalized at some point during their illness Ferrer said. She added that testing capacity continues to increase in the county, with results available for over 45,000 individuals and 14% of people testing positive.

The county's mortality rate from the illness -- the percentage of people with the disease who have died -- crept upward on Friday, reaching 2.9%. The county's mortality rate last week was 1.8%.

According to Ferrer, 28% of the people who have died from coronavirus in the county were residents of nursing homes or skilled nursing facilities. The county is investigating cases at 159 “institutional settings,” such as nursing homes, skilled nursing facilities, assisted living facilities, shelters, jails and prisons that have had at least one case. Those institutions have had a total of 1,062 cases and 67 deaths, all among residents.

A total of 53 cases have been confirmed in the county's jails -- eight inmates and 45 staff members. There were also 23 cases in prisons, while two staff members at the county juvenile hall in Sylmar have also tested positive.

On Thursday, Ferrer reported 20 cases among homeless people in the county, but that number dropped Friday to 18, with Ferrer saying two of the patients reported earlier turned out not to have the coronavirus.

Daily Life In Los Angeles Amid Coronavirus Outbreak

The countywide parks closure was ordered “with the top priority being the health and safety of our park guests, team members, and community,” said Norma E. Garcia, acting director of L.A. County Parks and Recreation. “We know Easter is day of celebration for many park guests and fun tradition for LA County Parks, and we appreciate the public's support and understanding as we collectively work to flatten the curve of the coronavirus.”

The order applies to all county botanic gardens, lakes, and local, community and regional parks.

Earlier this week, Mayor Eric Garcetti said all Los Angeles city parks will be closed Saturday evening into Monday to prevent people from gathering on Easter.

Garcetti said park rangers and Los Angeles Police Department officers will be at the parks to ensure the orders are followed as a measure to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

“I know that your heart breaks like so many of the things that we have had to do,” Garcetti said in announcing the measures. “This is such a fun moment for our kids. This is such a great tradition that many families have, but we can't afford to have one cluster of just even a few people together spread this disease to more people and kill them.”

“(LA County Parks) continues to assess daily operations and implement precautionary measures in response to COVID-19, working closely with County leaders and the Department of Public Health. Currently, play and sports amenities, indoor facilities, nature centers, golf courses, sports and recreation programs, and multi-use trails are closed to the public,” county officials said. “Local and regional parks remain open, with the except of April 12, as outdoor-only facilities with social distancing required and group gatherings of any size prohibited.”

The Jewish holiday Passover began at sundown Wednesday and ends at sundown April 16. The Muslim holy month of Ramadan begins April 23.

For more information on closures and changes in response to COVID-19, visit the LA County Parks website at https://parks.lacounty.gov/covid-19.

Photos: Getty Images

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