Public health officials said Friday that 62 Santa Monica residents have tested positive for coronavirus as the total number of cases in Los Angeles County reached 4,566.
An additional six people in Santa Monica were confirmed to have the virus Friday out of a total of 521 new cases reported in L.A. County. Santa Monica’s case count is 1.6 times higher than it was a week ago and L.A. County’s has more than doubled. More than 1,000 people have been hospitalized at some point, representing 22% of cases.
Barbara Ferrer, director of the L.A. County Department of Public Health, said residents can expect to see 1,000 new cases each day in the coming weeks, and must continue to stay at home as much as possible and practice physical distancing.
She said about 26,000 residents have been tested as of Friday, more than double the number that had been tested a week ago. Seven thousand to 10,000 people are now being tested each day, but testing is still limited to people showing symptoms who have been approved by a doctor.
“We are going to see more cases of people who are positive with COVID-19, but it’s our hope that the rate increase continues to be manageable and that we don’t overwhelm our healthcare system,” she said.
Ferrer also announced 11 new deaths Friday, bringing the death toll in the county to 89. The death rate now stands at 1.9%, slightly below the state’s death rate of 2.3%.
Seventy-eight percent of people who have died in L.A. County were older than 65, Ferrer said. Seven people of the 11 people whose deaths were reported Friday were older than 65, three were between 41 and 65 and one was between 18 and 40. All had underlying health conditions except for one individual between 41 and 65.
Ferrer said the county is investigating 321 confirmed cases of coronavirus at 67 institutional settings, and 11 residents of nursing homes and assisted living facilities have died. The number of institutions under investigation, which in addition to homes for the elderly include homeless shelters, treatment centers, jails and prisons, has quadrupled since Monday.
Seven inmates and 18 employees of county jails and prisons have tested positive. Seven people experiencing homelessness have tested positive, down from the total reported Thursday because two individuals were not homeless, Ferrer said.
Ferrer reiterated Friday that people can prevent themselves from spreading coronavirus to others by wearing homemade masks and should not try to purchase N95 masks, which are in short supply and should be reserved for healthcare workers.
To slow the spread of coronavirus locally, Santa Monica public schools are closed indefinitely and county beaches, beach bike paths and public trails will close through at least April 19, officials said last week.
City of Santa Monica parks and farmers markets are still open, but Palisades Park was closed last weekend to prevent crowding. The city’s public buildings, nonessential businesses, playgrounds, Santa Monica Pier and beach parking lots are closed through the end of April.