LOS ANGELES (CNS) - Los Angeles County has reported more than 40 additional deaths due to the coronavirus, while the number of cases topped 58,000.
The county Department of Public Health on Wednesday 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.
The county, meanwhile, 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 whom 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 this week 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.
The Los Angeles City Council voted Wednesday to simplify the process for fitness businesses to apply for permits to conduct exercise classes and activities in public spaces during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Gyms and other fitness facilities have been closed since March 15 under the Los Angeles Safer at Home Order. The closures have forced some businesses to begin mass layoffs of instructors and trainers while gyms and studios consider permanently shutting their doors, the motion stated.
Councilman Mike Bonin, who authored the motion, said it could be a way to help people stay healthy, as many Angelenos have been mostly staying at home for nearly three months since the start of the Safer at Home order.
“It's also particularly impactful for not just the small business owners ... but it is impactful for the independent contractors,'' Bonin said. “Most of the people who do training in gyms, most of the people who conduct yoga classes, most of the people who are personal trainers are all independent contractors.''
Bonin said people can currently apply for permits for outdoor exercise instruction at public parks, but he called it a “complicated process'' and said he wants the city's Recreation and Parks Department to simplify the process.
California is currently in Phase 2 of Gov. Gavin Newsom's COVID-19 reopening plan, but gyms and similar businesses will not be allowed to re-open until Phase 3, which may not arrive for months, the councilman stated.
Bonin's motion directs the Recreation and Parks Department to simplify the process for the fitness businesses in ways that do not conflict with demand for general public use.
The motion also requests the Department of General Services to provide a list of city-owned properties that might be appropriate for outdoor fitness classes.
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