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Coronavirus Cases in L.A. County Top 7,500 as Deaths Near 200

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LOS ANGELES (CNS) - More than two dozen new coronavirus deaths weremreported in Los Angeles County today, pushing the total close to 200, while the overall number of cases topped 7,500.

Barbara Ferrer, the county's public health director, reported 29 new deaths, although three of them were reported late Tuesday by health officials in Long Beach. The new deaths included 17 people over age 65, with 16 of those people having underlying health conditions. Seven of the deaths occurred in people between 18 and 40, and five of them had underlying health problems.

Another 620 coronavirus cases were confirmed in the county, Ferrer said, raising the overall total to 7,530. That figure includes 256 cases in Long Beach and 80 in Pasadena. Those cities both have their own health departments separate from the county.

The mortality rate among coronavirus patients in the county continued to rise slowly, reaching 2.6% on Wednesday, Ferrer said. The figure means 2.6% of the people who have tested positive for the illness in the county have died. Last week, the mortality rate was 1.8%.

The county's coronavirus cases include 43 cases that occurred in jail settings -- three inmates and 40 staff members -- along with 10 cases in the state prison system -- eight inmates and two staffers. Two cases have been reported in a county juvenile facility, both involving staff members at the Barry Nidorf juvenile hall in Sylmar.

Twelve cases have been confirmed among the county's homeless population, up from two on Tuesday. Four cases have been reported in homeless shelters, involving two residents and two staff members.

Ferrer said there are now 131 institutional settings -- such as nursing homes, skilled nursing facilities, assisted living facilities, shelters, jails and prisons -- that have had at least one case. Those institutions have had a total of 596 cases and 37 deaths, all among residents.

As of Tuesday, roughly 36,500 people have been tested for the virus in the county, although Ferrer noted that number is likely low, since multiple new testing sites have opened in recent days but figures have not yet been gathered from those new locations.

The county has set a goal of testing 10,000 people per day. With roughly 10% of those people ultimately testing positive, Ferrer has warned that the daily increases in case numbers will likely approach about 1,000.

New testing centers opened Wednesday at East Los Angeles College and at the Charles Drew University medical campus in Willowbrook. The county now has more than 20 testing centers across the region. Those centers and others operated by individual cities are restricted to people showing symptoms of COVID-19.

Ferrer noted that as of Wednesday, 324 health care workers have tested positive. More than half of them work in hospitals, but other cases have occurred at outpatient facilities and emergency medical services personnel. Nurses have had the largest number of cases, but doctors, paramedics and emergency medical technicians have also tested positive. Two health care workers in the county have died from the virus.

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