LOS ANGELES (CNS) - The number of coronavirus cases in L.A. County stands at 26,238 today, with 1,260 deaths, but Mayor Eric Garcetti says he and county officials are discussing plans to relax some Safer at Home orders to allow certain businesses to reopen.
Dr. Barbara Ferrer, director of the county Department of Public Health, announced 28 new deaths due to the coronavirus, although two of those deaths were previously reported by the city of Pasadena, which has its own health department. Pasadena later Monday reported four additional deaths.
The new deaths brought the county's total number of fatalities to 1,260. Roughly half of those deaths have occurred in institutional settings, primarily skilled nursing facilities.
As of Monday, institutional settings -- including nursing homes, skilled nursing facilities, assisted living facilities, shelters, jails and prisons -- accounted for 616 deaths in the county, with Ferrer saying the vast majority were residents of skilled nursing facilities. Health officials are investigating 328 institutional settings that have had at least one confirmed or suspected case.
Ferrer noted there have been 533 confirmed cases at federal prisons, the vast majority of them at the Terminal Island lockup, where a sixth inmate died from the disease on Monday. According to the federal Bureau of Prisons, 58- year-old Eduardo Robles-Holguin was hospitalized April 25 and placed on a ventilator.
For the 1,148 people who died from the virus and for whom racial data was available, 38% were Latinx, 29% white, 19% Asian, 13% black and 1% Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander.
Ferrer also reported 568 new cases of the coronavirus, noting that figures released on Mondays are generally lower due to more limited testing on weekends. Long Beach, which also has its own health department, announced eight more cases, while Pasadena reported 13 more. The total number of cases in the county as of Monday afternoon was 26,238.
A total of 2,978 health care workers and first responders in the county have tested positive for COVID-19, an increase of about 1,000 from the previous week. Ferrer said the large jump was due primarily to stepped-up testing implemented at nursing facilities. Fifteen health care workers have died in the county, and Ferrer said 12 of those people worked at skilled nursing or assisted living facilities.
Despite the continued spread of the virus, Ferrer said county officials this week will discuss plans for reopening of businesses that have been shuttered for weeks under state and local stay-at-home orders. Gov. Gavin Newsom announced earlier Monday that the state will release guidelines on Thursday that will allow some low-risk retail businesses to reopen with curbside pickup only -- such as book stores, clothing stores, sporting-goods shops and florists.
Newsom said individual counties will retain the authority to keep stricter orders in place, possibly even delaying such businesses from reopening. Ferrer declined to say if Los Angeles County -- which has had nearly half of all COVID-19 deaths in the state, despite only having about one-quarter of the population -- will fully go along with the state's loosening of restrictions. She said the county will allow businesses to reopen as quickly as possible wherever it can be safely done so.
Garcetti said Monday he and Los Angeles County officials are discussing plans to relax some Safer at Home orders to allow certain businesses to reopen. But he said it will be some time before all businesses can resume and he did not provide a definite timeline on reopening.
“I want to be clear, this is going to be longer than just a couple weeks,” Garcetti said during his daily coronavirus update. “There (won't be) a giant reopening. This is a series of steps that we have to assess each time, and they will succeed more if we practice the prescriptions that are given to us.”
Garcetti said if the city and county reopen businesses too soon or incorrectly, it could undo all the social distancing and isolating Angelenos have been observing for at least the last eight weeks. Businesses could be closed again after reopening if the coronavirus spreads and cases continue to increase.
He said he hopes he can announce this week what businesses could reopen, when and in what ways, but said he would only make that announcement if health professionals are comfortable with him doing so and if the county and neighboring cities agree. Safer at Home orders have been in place in Los Angeles since March 19 and are set to expire May 15.
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