17 coronavirus deaths, 1,003 new cases reported Sunday in LA County

In numbers declining considerably from Saturday’s jolting totals, Los Angeles County officials revealed 17 new deaths and 1,003 new cases of novel coronavirus in Sunday’s Department of Public Health update.

The announcement brought the county’s state-topping total of confirmed positive cases of COVID-19 to 73,018, while total fatalities continued to inch closer to the 3,000 threshold, with 2,907 deaths. About 93% of people who died reported underlying health conditions, officials said.

“So many have lost loved ones and friends to COVID-19, and we mourn with you. You are in our thoughts and prayers every day,” said county Director of Public Health Barbara Ferrer in a statement. “For LA County to have a successful recovery journey, both businesses and residents must do their part to protect employees, customers and visitors. For businesses who are reopening, this means putting in place all of the required protocols for physical distancing and infection control before opening and ensuring that these protocols are followed by customers and employees every day.”

The mid-day report did not include updated numbers for Long Beach or Pasadena, which operate their own health departments. As of Sunday afternoon, neither city had posted new totals.

The lower Sunday numbers fall in line with recent trends, generally attributed by officials to scaled-down weekend record-keeping. On Saturday, officials announced 58 new deaths and 1,568 new cases of COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, discouraging numbers that arrived as the county moved to reopen more a wide variety of businesses and public attractions to the public.

Health officials on Friday, released a modified “Safer-At-Home” order as the county pushes into stage 3 of California’s Pandemic Resilience Roadmap, allowing these businesses, facilities and attractions to reopen, with required facemasks, social distancing and other anti-virus measures in place:

  • Day camps
  • Gyms and fitness facilities
  • Pro sports arenas (without live audiences)
  • Museums, galleries, zoos and aquariums
  • Campgrounds, RV parks and outdoor recreation
  • Music, film and television production
  • Hotels (for leisure travel)

Long Beach’s Aquarium of the Pacific reopened to the public on Sunday, debuting a new attraction, “Coral Reefs: Nature’s Underwater Cities,” detailing the many coral reefs across the globe and the biodiversity they support, the threats they face, and what visitors can do to help save them. A partial reopening on Friday and Saturday allowed for aquarium members to preview the new exhibit.

The Los Angeles Zoo, however, did not open over the weekend. It will remain closed until at least July so safety preparations can be made, officials said.

Safety measures at the zoo will include installing directional signage encouraging social distancing between groups and the closure of indoor spaces and high-touch areas, officials said. When it does reopen, visitors and staff will be required to wear face coverings and cleaning and sanitization will be increased, zoo officials said.

In addition to people venturing out to scores of reopening sites, officials continue to be concerned about the impact of protest marches that have become daily events, sometimes as many as two dozen on a single day, since the Memorial Day in-custody death of George Floyd in Minnesota.

About a dozen such rallies occurred Sunday in LA and Orange counties, including a mammoth march in West Hollywood that drew upwards of 20,000 demonstrators. Many in the crowd wore facemasks, but keeping socially distanced appeared to be difficult.

Organizers of the All Black Lives Matter march included a tag line on the event flyer reading, “COVID-19 guidelines encouraged and enforced.” On the website, organizers cited the disproportionate impact of the coronavirus on Black and LGBTQ+ communities and urged protesters to “take protective measures, including wearing face coverings and avoiding large crowds if you are at high risk or displaying symptoms of COVID-19” and provided a link to public-health recommendations.

Ready Responders set up a tent at the march to offer complimentary COVID-19 testing to protesters.

In Sunday’s county report, officials said eight of the 17 people who died were older than 65 and five people who died were between the ages of 41 and 65.

Officials said seven people reported various underlying health conditions, including five over the age of 65 and two between the ages of 41 and 65.

Public health officials continue to assess health outcomes by race, ethnicity and income level data of people who have been tested, hospitalized and died.

For people for whom racial/ethnic information was available, 41% who have died so far were Latino/Latinx residents, 29% were white, 17% were Asian, 11% were African Americans and less than 1% were Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islanders.

The county also revealed these updated death rates on Sunday:

  • Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander: 52 deaths per 100,000 population;
  • African American: 34 per 100,000;
  • Latinos/Latinx: 33 per 100,000;
  • Asian: 23 per 100,000;
  • White: 18 per 100,000.

People in high-poverty areas have died at a rate of 56 per 100,000 people; the rate in communities with very low poverty levels was 15 per 100,000, officials said.

Of the 1,383 people who remain hospitalized, 30% are in intensive care units and 20% are on ventilators, officials said.

Testing results are now available for more than 803,000 residents, health officials said, with 8% testing positive.

Amid the latest wave of reopenings, county officials reminded the public that the following sectors remain closed here:

  • Bars, wineries and brewery tasting rooms, lounges and nightclubs
  • Cardrooms and satellite wagering facilities
  • Movie theaters, live performance theaters, concert venues, theme parks and festivals
  • Bowling alleys, arcades, miniature golf and batting cages
  • Nail salons, body waxing, massage and tattoo centers
  • Playgrounds (except at schools or childcare centers)
  • Hot tubs, steam rooms and saunas (not located at a residence)
  • Events and gatherings (unless specifically allowed by the county)

City News Service contributed to this report