LOS ANGELES (CNS) - As it continues to resolve a backlog of testing results caused by technical problems in its reporting systems, Los Angeles County announced 2,773 new COVID-19 cases today, along with 23 more deaths.
The county had reported unusually low daily case numbers earlier this week due to the unspecified technical problems. The issues began to resolve Thursday, when the county announced 3,600 new cases, the largest number since a surge that occurred after the Fourth of July holiday. County officials noted that about 2,000 of the cases reported Thursday were a result of the backlog.
According to the county Department of Public Health, additional backlogged test results are expected to be released in the coming days, meaning daily case numbers will continue to be higher than usual.
The 2,773 cases announced by the county, along with 84 reported by Long Beach health officials and 25 by Pasadena, lifted the countywide cumulative total from throughout the pandemic to 296,930.
The county also announced 23 coronavirus-related deaths on Friday, raising the death toll to 6,974.
A total of 769 people were hospitalized in the county due to the virus as of Friday, down from 777 on Thursday but up from 758 on Wednesday, 730 on Tuesday, 722 on Monday and 752 on Sunday. Hospitalizations have remained below the 800 mark for several weeks, following post-July Fourth surges that saw more than 2,000 daily hospital cases.
The county on Friday also confirmed two new cases of a rare, coronavirus-related pediatric condition, known as multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children. The two new cases lifted the countywide total to 43, all of whom required hospitalization and half of whom were admitted to intensive care units. There have not been any deaths in the county due to MIS-C.
The county revised its health order on Friday, lifting restrictions on some businesses. The revisions allowed the reopening of indoor personal-care businesses such as tattoo parlors and massage-therapy shops. The county also cleared the way for outdoor family entertainment centers to open, including go-kart tracks, miniature golf courses and batting cages.
The county also expanded a program that allows schools to resume in-person instruction for high-need and English-learning students. That program previously allowed schools to bring such students back to campus, up to 10% of a school's overall enrollment. That limit is now being increased to 25%, Supervisor Kathryn Barger said, “so more students and youth can have access to their teachers and the on-site support systems that are so critical for their growth and for their education.''
Public health director Barbara Ferrer said that as of this week, 986 schools are taking part in that program, with nearly 35,000 students now receiving in-person instruction and nearly 20,000 teachers and staff back on campuses. Those changes in the county's health officer order are expected to be finalized Friday.
The county is also revising its order to ease restrictions on wineries and breweries. Customers will no longer be required to make reservations one day in advance to visit a winery or brewery, and wineries will no longer be required to sell food along with alcohol.
County health officials this week confirmed that three cases of COVID-19 have been reported at Grace Community Church in Sun Valley. The church has been in a legal battle with the county over the health order, which bars indoor worship services.
A judge issued an order requiring the church to stop holding such services, but the church has been defying that order, and it could be held in contempt at a court hearing next month.
An attorney for the church issued a statement Friday condemning the use of the word “outbreak'' to describe the three coronavirus cases -- although the county throughout the pandemic has defined an “outbreak'' as three or more cases at a single location.
“Three very mild positive tests among more than 7,000 people is hardly news -- 0.0004% is not an `outbreak,''' attorney Jenna Ellis said in a statement. “... It has never been the church's position that it is only safe to hold services if no one ever tests positive, or for example, if no one ever gets the flu during flu season.
“Our position has been that L.A. County shutting down churches indefinitely amid a virus with a 99.98% survival rate, especially when state-preferred businesses are open and protests are held without restriction, is unconstitutional and harmful to the free exercise of religion,'' she said.
The county health order allows church services, but requires they be held outdoors.
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