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L.A. County records highest daily coronavirus death toll in a month

by Ace Damon

On Wednesday, Los Angeles County recorded its worst daily number of coronavirus deaths in at least a month, which may be the result of the increase in disease transmission that probably started around Memorial Day.

Los Angeles County Department of Public Health officials reported 60 new coronavirus-related deaths on Wednesday, and Long Beach – which has its own health worker – reported a new death. The combined total of 61 cases is the highest number of deaths in a day since June 2, when 62 deaths were recorded across LA County, according to the Los Angeles Times coronavirus tracker in California.

“Our cases are on the rise. The infection rate is increasing. And the number of hospitalizations has increased. And today, we are seeing a small increase in the number of deaths, ”said Barbara Ferrer, director of public health for Los Angeles County on Wednesday.

“Tragically, we hope that more of our loved ones and neighbors will die from COVID-19 in the coming weeks with all the increases we are seeing in hospitalizations,” said Ferrer.

“We are seeing a strong increase in community transmission,” added Ferrer, pointing out that LA County is registering an average of 2,400 new coronavirus cases per day; at that time, in June, LA County reported about 1,300 cases a day.

As of Monday, there were 2,004 people hospitalized with confirmed coronavirus infections in LA County, a 36% increase over Memorial Day, when 1,477 coronavirus-infected people were in LA County hospitals.

Monday was the second consecutive day that LA County recorded a record number of coronavirus-related hospitalizations since the California pandemic.

“More people are hospitalized every day by COVID-19 than anywhere else in the pandemic,” said Ferrer. “We are concerned, given the higher rates of hospitalizations, that deaths may increase again.”

Experts say it can take three to four weeks after exposure to the virus for infected people to be sick enough to be hospitalized, and four to five weeks after exposure for patients to die from the disease.

Across the state, the number of coronavirus-related hospitalizations continued to rise.

Tuesday marked California’s 18th consecutive day in breaking the record number of people hospitalized with confirmed coronavirus infections.

On Tuesday, Governor Gavin Newsom said there were 6,100 people hospitalized with confirmed coronavirus infections, up 114% from the figure six weeks earlier, on May 26, when 2,847 people were hospitalized.

The number of people in California’s intensive care units has also increased.

On Tuesday, there were 1,753 people with confirmed coronavirus infections in California’s intensive care units, up 71% from the figure six weeks earlier, on May 26, when 1,026 coronavirus-infected patients were in the ICU.

In both Los Angeles County and the entire state, a higher percentage of coronavirus test results are turning positive – an indication that the virus’s transmission is getting worse.

The so-called positivity rate has more than doubled since late May in LA County. The seven-day average of the so-called daily positivity rate rose to 10.4%, officials said Wednesday; at the end of May, that rate dropped to a minimum of 4.6%.

Across California, the positive rate of return on coronavirus testing has increased by 67% in the past three weeks.

A Los Angeles Times analysis of the test results on Wednesday showed that the statewide positivity rate for the past seven days was 7.7 %%; three weeks earlier, the rate was only 4.6%.

There have been some signs of progress – and warnings that the pandemic has been getting worse in LA County in recent weeks may be working.

On the four-day weekend of the Fourth of July, of the 1,101 restaurants inspected in LA County, 99% were in compliance with the county’s orders to provide only outdoor dining, take-out or delivery; 99% of customers wore masks and 82% of employees wore appropriate facial coatings.

Of the 82 bars visited by LA County inspectors, all were closed, following an order issued last week.

On the other hand, half of the 2,000 restaurants inspected on a mid-June weekend did not comply with safety guidelines.

In addition, while coronavirus-related hospitalizations are at their peak at all times in LA County, they are increasing at a slower rate, said Dr. Christine Ghaly, director of health services for LA County.

LA County officials started sounding the alarm a month ago, when the effective transmission rate of the coronavirus rose above 1, meaning that for every person infected with the coronavirus, that person on average transmitted the virus to more than one person – setting the stage for a dramatic worsening of the pandemic.

The transmission rate has dropped to 1 in the past few weeks. Good news, and if that rate remains stable, LA County is likely to have an adequate supply of hospital beds by early August.

But since the rate was above 1 for a period of June, it also means that when we enter July, LA County is now dealing with the consequences, said Ghaly.

Ghaly said officials suspect that the reopening of the LA county economy was the main reason for the increase in transmission.

LA County reopened churches and store purchases on May 26; allowed internal meals to resume on May 29; and allowed bars and wineries to reopen on June 19.

The bars were closed in LA County on June 28 and indoor dining was closed on July 1.

Coronavirus continues to disproportionately impact Los Angeles County black and Latino residents compared to white residents, according to a age-adjusted analysis of death rates reported by county officials.

Black and Latino residents of LA County are dying at approximately twice the rate of white residents, according to the analysis.

For every 100,000 Latin residents, 45 died; and for every 100,000 black residents, 41 died.

For every 100,000 Asian residents, 27 died. And for every 100,000 white residents, 21 died.

The overall death rate in LA County is 33 deaths per 100,000 residents.

Racial disparities are a cause for concern, Ferrer said, and mean that officials need to redouble efforts to improve access to tests and medical care in underserved areas, in addition to helping workers who may not have adequate protection at work.

Poor neighborhoods are also showing much worse death rates. Those living in the worst poverty areas in LA County are suffering 73 deaths for every 100,000 inhabitants, while residents of the wealthiest areas are seeing 18 deaths for every 100,000 inhabitants.

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