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More Coronavirus Deaths Reported in L.A. County

Reporter Roundup is a collaboration between PBS SoCal/KCET and KPCC/LAist to bring you the biggest headlines M-F about COVID-19. Watch the May 8 episode here.

LOS ANGELES (CNS) - Another three dozen deaths due to the coronavirus were confirmed today in Los Angeles County, while the county's health director said people who ventured onto newly reopened hiking trails and golf courses generally adhered to social distancing and other safety directives over the weekend.

But some businesses that reopened their doors under loosened health restrictions that took effect Friday were found to be in violation and had to shut down.

"Our inspectors had to require some businesses to close since they were not able to come into compliance," said Barbara Ferrer, director of the county Department of Public Health.

She said 410 businesses were surveyed, and 162 were found to be in violation of the health orders that generally required curbside pickup of goods only, cloth face coverings for employees and customers and physical distancing. It was unclear how many of those 162 had to shut down.

"I do want to remind all of us, both residents and businesses, that we have to do our part to slow the spread of COVID-19," Ferrer said. "And it's extraordinarily important to follow the health officer orders and directives. Businesses should not open until they can adhere to all the protocols, and they must post a completed checklist in a public place before they open so that their customers and their employees can be sure that this is a place that is able to provide the required protections."

The relaxed health restrictions allowed retail businesses such as florists, toy stores, clothing and sporting good stores and music shops to reopen, but only with curbside pickup. The county also reopened hiking trails and golf courses.

Ferrer said monitors at hiking trials reported "larger but manageable crowds" over the weekend, and the monitors were "able to remind users to adhere to physical distancing, to wear their cloth face coverings and to not linger." She said people on golf courses were also "very compliant, and they did adhere to the physical distancing protocols and all of the restrictions."

She said maintaining such compliance will be critical to ensuring that businesses and recreation facilities can stay open -- particularly with beaches set to reopen for active use only beginning Wednesday.

"It is still safer, however, to remain at home," Ferrer said. "COVID-19 has not changed. It is relatively easy to transmit and people, especially people with underlying health conditions, can become seriously ill from the virus."

Ferrer reported 39 more deaths due to the coronavirus, although one of those fatalities was previously announced by the city of Long Beach, which has its own health department. Long Beach reported another death Monday afternoon.

The new deaths raised the county's overall total to 1,570.

Ferrer also announced 591 new cases, while Long Beach announced five more and Pasadena added six, bringing the overall county total to 32,269.

Half of all the coronavirus deaths in the county have involved institutional settings, primarily skilled nursing facilities, Ferrer said.

She said that as of Monday, 20 health care workers in the county have died from COVID-19, an increase of five from last week. Of those 20, 14 worked in skilled nursing or assisted living facilities, three worked in hospitals and one at a correctional facility. The work setting of the other two deaths was not immediately known.

At total of 3,614 health care workers and first responders in the county have tested positive for the illness, an increase of 636 since last week. Nearly half of those people were nurses, Ferrer said.

The county on Wednesday is expected to issue an updated health officer order outlining continued safety measures. The current order, which dictates the closures of some businesses and mandates face coverings and physical distancing, is set to expire Friday.

But Ferrer noted that things like physical distancing and wearing cloth face coverings when interacting with other members of the public are unlikely to go away.

"This is our new normal and it will go on for awhile," she said.

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