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Coronavirus Deaths Continue Steady Increase; Precautions Urged for Protesters

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LOS ANGELES (CNS) - Coronavirus deaths continued to steadily increase in Los Angeles County today, with health officials announcing another 45 fatalities and more than 1,500 new cases.

And as mass protests against police brutality continued across the Southland, health officials again urged people to take steps to avoid infecting others and quarantine themselves if they believe they've been exposed.

The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health announced 44 more deaths due to COVID-19, while health officials in Long Beach reported one additional fatality. The new deaths increased the countywide total to 2,532.

The county also announced another 1,469 newly confirmed cases of the virus, and Long Beach officials announced 42 more. A total of 59,692 cases have been confirmed across the county as of Thursday.

As of Thursday, 93% 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 2,341 fatalities for whom ethnic information was available, 41% were Latinx, 28% were white, 18% were Asian, 12% were black and 1% were Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander.

Also as of Thursday, 1,457 were hospitalized for treatment of COVID-19, and 30% 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.

As they have throughout the week, county health officials urged people taking part in continuing protests in the Southland to wear face coverings and try to maintain social distancing of six feet from others.

"If you think you may have been exposed to COVID-19 while out and in large crowds, because you were in close contact for at least 15 minutes with people who were not wearing face coverings, please remember that the virus has a long incubation period and it will be important to remain away from others as much as possible for 14 days," public health director Barbara Ferrer said in statement. "Testing negative for COVID-19 right after you've been exposed does not mean you can't become infected later during the incubation period, so please stay away from others for 14 days after possible exposure.

"Should you develop symptoms within 14 days of exposure, please contact your healthcare provider to connect to care and testing," she said.

Ferrer also urged people who may have spent time in large crowds with people not wearing face coverings to take steps to avoid potentially infecting vulnerable people at home. In those instances, the county urged residents living with people who are elderly or have underlying health conditions to wear face coverings at home and maintain a six-foot distance. Those people were also urged to "avoid preparing food for others, sharing utensils, bedding and towels, and increase cleaning and disinfecting of common surfaces."

County officials have acknowledged the possibility of more coronavirus cases arising as additional businesses reopen, such as 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.

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.

Bonin said people can 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.

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