LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) — Los Angeles County reported 60 new coronavirus-related deaths and 1,202 more confirmed cases on Tuesday.
After a week of protests against police brutality in the wake of the deadly arrest of George Floyd in Minneapolis, L.A. County health officials and local leaders expressed some fear that large demonstrations could serve as “super spreader” events for the virus and lead to a spike in cases.
“We urge everyone, including the people across our community who are engaging in protest, to please care for each other by practicing physical distancing as much as possible and wearing a cloth face covering when around other people. These actions are important in preventing many more cases and hospitalizations from COVID-19,” Los Angeles County public health director Barbara Ferrer said in a statement. “These actions can save lives.”
While protestors did not seem to be following social distancing guidelines, many did appear to be wearing masks. Police officers also did not seem to be six feet apart when forming lines to contain protestors.
Ferrer urged protestors, and those gathering for any reason, to continue to take precautions to slow the spread of the virus.
“We need to keep as much distance from each other when we’re out and about and we need to wear our face coverings, and that’s how we get through the pandemic,” she said. “So when we see examples where that’s not happening, its a cause for concern, and from my perspective it’s also a reminder to each of us that we can help other people remember how to be respectful and kind to each other by using those cloth face coverings.”
County health officials did not hold a news briefing on Tuesday, but the new numbers brought the death toll to 2,448.
The total number of cases has increased to 57,122.
According to health officials, around 12 percent of people who have tested positive for COVID-19 were hospitalized. Roughly 375 people are currently in intensive care.
Several coronavirus testing sites remained closed on Tuesday, due to public safety concerns. Despite the closure, officials said the testing capacity has increased countywide. More than 633,000 people have received results as of Tuesday, and 8 percent have tested positive.
On Monday, Ferrer said that any surge in cases related to the protests will likely not appear in data for three or four weeks, due to the virus’ 14-day incubation period.
As the county reopens, a spike in cases could also be due to an increased number of dine-in restaurants and hair salons welcoming customers.
However, many businesses that are otherwise permitted to open have boarded up and closed operations out of fear of vandals and looters. Others are closing early due to countywide curfew, which is 6 p.m. to 6 a.m.
Attention has also been drawn to the fact that black residents are dying from coronavirus at a higher rate, due at least in part to inequities in the health care system that create a higher rate of underlying health problems.
Data released by the Department of Public Health on Tuesday shows two inmates have died from coronavirus — one at Men’s Central Jail, and one at the Twin Towers Correctional Facility.
Ferrer also confirmed 11 homeless people have died from the virus, so far. A total of 5,398 healthcare workers have contracted COVID-19, and 39 have died.
(© Copyright 2020 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. City News Service contributed to this report.)