LOS ANGELES (CNS) - While protests against police brutality continued to dominate headlines, Los Angeles County reported more than 40 additional deaths today due to the coronavirus, while the number of cases topped 58,000.
The county Department of Public Health reported 46 new deaths from COVID-19, although five of those fatalities were actually reported Tuesday afternoon by officials in Long Beach.
The new deaths increased the countywide total to 2,489.
Meanwhile, the county announced another 1,155 confirmed cases of the illness, while Long Beach reported 27 more and Pasadena added six. The new cases gave the county a total of 58,267.
As of Wednesday, 92% of the people who have died from the coronavirus in the county had underlying health conditions. That percentage has remained largely unchanged for weeks.
For the 2,301 fatalities for with ethnic information was available, 41% were Latinx, 28% were white, 17% were Asian, 12% were black and 1% were Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander.
Also as of Wednesday, 1,422 were hospitalized for treatment of COVID-19, and 26% of those people were in intensive-care units. Since the pandemic began, 11% of people who have tested positive for the illness have required hospitalization at some point.
Health officials and elected office-holders in Los Angeles County have expressed fear that crowded demonstrations stemming from the death of unarmed and unresisting George Floyd while in Minneapolis police custody could serve as “super spreader'' events and lead to a spike in coronavirus cases.
County officials urged people attending such demonstrations to wear face coverings and maintain distance from others whenever possible.
Many protesters seemed to be heeding her advice about wearing masks, but even peaceful crowds seen in videos were failing to maintain social distancing. Police officers forming lines to contain protesters also seem to be closer than six feet apart.
Due to the continuing protests, some L.A. County coronavirus testing facilities cut their hours short on Wednesday, and the Redondo Beach site was closed for the day. But the county's testing capacity has continued to increase, with more than 646,000 people tested so far, and about 8% of them testing positive.
Any surge related to protests probably won't show up in the data until three or four weeks from now, given a 14-day incubation period for the coronavirus, health officials said.
Numbers may also increase as state and county authorities allow more businesses to reopen, including dine-in restaurants and personal care businesses such as salons and barbershops. Those enterprises are allowed to reopen as soon as they can implement the required protocols for social distancing and infection control.
Higher-risk businesses, such as bars and wineries without sit-down meals, must remain closed. However, many other stores that might otherwise be open were boarded up Tuesday out of fear of vandals and looters, who have used some peaceful protests as an excuse for mayhem in Santa Monica, Long Beach, Beverly Hills and elsewhere. Other businesses will close early due to a countywide 6 p.m. to 6 a.m. curfew Wednesday.
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