Coronavirus Cases Near 14,000 in L.A. County

LOS ANGELES (CNS) - The number of Los Angeles County's coronavirus cases stands at 13,857 today, with 624 deaths.

Barbara Ferrer, director of the county Department of Public Health, announced 17 new coronavirus deaths during a midday briefing Monday. That figure, however, did not include two additional deaths reported late Monday morning by officials in Long Beach and five more announced by Pasadena. Those cities both have health departments separate from the county.

The new Long Beach deaths pushed that city's total to 24, while Pasadena now has 25 fatalities. Those deaths, along with the 17 reported by Ferrer, increased the countywide death toll to 624.

Ferrer also reported 1,491 new confirmed cases of coronavirus, but she said the vast majority of them -- 1,198 -- were the result of a backlog of testing results from the week of April 7-14 that were just reported by a single testing lab. She said the actual one-day increase in cases was 293.

The county's total number of cases stood at 13,816, although Long Beach reported seven more positive results and Pasadena added 34 more, increasing the countywide total to 13,857.

The updated numbers, however, were overshadowed by the release of preliminary results of an antibody study that made use of serology testing that is used to determine if a person may have been unknowingly infected with the virus, yet never showed symptoms or was never tested.

Preliminary results of the study found that of 863 people randomly selected for testing, 4.1% had antibodies in their system, indicating they had been infected at some point with the virus. When applying a margin of error, researchers estimated that between 2.8% and 5.6% of the county's population has been infected, resulting in a range of 221,000 and 442,000 people. Those estimates are 28 to 55 times higher than the 7,994 cases that had been confirmed when the antibody testing was done in early April.

Ferrer said the results reinforce the continued need for stay-at-home and social-distancing mandates, since potentially hundreds of thousands of people could be infected with the virus and capable of spreading it.

Lead investigator Neeraj Sood, professor at the USC Price School for Public Policy, said the numbers show the county is “very early in the epidemic” given the number of people who are likely infected without their knowledge.

Ferrer noted that the presence of antibodies in a person's body does not mean the person is immune to the illness.

Additional serology testing is expected to continue into the summer.

Of the people who have died from coronavirus, 89% had underlying health conditions, Ferrer said, a percentage that has remained generally steady as new fatalities are reported.

Of the 54 deaths for which race and ethnicity data were available, 36% were Latinx, 28% white, 17% Asian and 16% black.

Ferrer said there are now 47 cases of coronavirus among the homeless, the vast majority of them unsheltered. She noted that health officials are investigating cases that occurred at eight different homeless shelters, and anyone potentially exposed to the positive patients has been quarantined.

A total of 265 institutional settings -- including nursing homes, skilled nursing facilities, assisted living facilities, shelters, jails and prisons -- have had at least one case. Those institutions accounted for a total of 2,733 cases, involving 1,580 residents and 1,153 staff members. They also account for 241 deaths, or roughly 39% of all coronavirus fatalities in the county. The “vast majority” of those deaths were in skilled nursing facilities.

As of Monday, about 80,000 people have been tested for coronavirus in the county, with about 13% testing positive.

A day after telling Angelenos the coronavirus pandemic is wreaking more financial havoc on Los Angeles than the 2008 recession, Mayor Eric Garcetti released a proposed 2020-21 budget today that calls for reducing services and furloughing about 15,000 municipal workers for 26 days.

Garcetti's budget proposal covers spending for the next fiscal year, which begins July 1. The budget must be adopted by the City Council by June 30, according to state law.

“While we have to make cuts everywhere, no program will be completely cut, but all programs will receive some cuts,” the mayor said Monday night.

“We will not compromise our commitment to your public safety,” he said. “Let me be clear, back-to-basic investments that keep our neighborhoods safe and keep our streets clean ... these are not open for compromise or cut.”

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