LOS ANGELES (CNS) - L.A. County's coronavirus toll stands at 296 deaths and 9,192 cases today after county officials on Easter reported 31 additional deaths from COVID-19 and 323 new cases.
The numbers came as Angelenos celebrated an unusual Easter Sunday in which not only churches but all county parks and nature areas were closed to the public in an effort to prevent the further spread of the coronavirus.
“As many Angelenos celebrate the Easter holiday today, I want to acknowledge those families that are grieving the loss of a loved one associated with the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Barbara Ferrer, the county's director of public health. “I also want to thank everyone for continuing to do their part to help suppress this virus; please stay at home whenever possible and when you go out in public, wear a cloth face covering.”
As of Sunday, 2,246 people who tested positive for COVID-19 (24% of positive cases) had 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 more than 47,000 individuals.
The county's mortality rate from the illness -- the percentage of people with the disease who have died -- crept upward Friday, reaching 2.9%. The county's mortality rate last week was 1.8%.
According to Ferrer, around 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.
A total of 54 Los Angeles police employees and 16 members of the Los Angeles Fire Department have now tested positive for the coronavirus, Emergency Operations Center spokeswoman Jessica Kellogg said.
Thirteen LAPD employees have recovered and returned to active duty. Two LAPD employees were hospitalized and the remainder were self-isolating at home. Seven LAFD employees have recovered and returned to duty. One LAFD member remains hospitalized and the rest are self-isolating at home, Kellogg said.
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 applied 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 through 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.
Representatives for both the Los Angeles Police Department and the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department told City News Service on Sunday that officers and deputies were focused on voluntary compliance and didn't expect to be writing a large number of citations.
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 or the LA City Parks website at https://www.laparks.org/.
Photos: Getty Images