LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) – Thursday marked the fourth straight day in which Los Angeles County recorded at least 1,000 coronavirus cases, health officials announced, as COVID-19 has now become the leading cause of death in the county.

Pedestrians wearing face masks walk on Rodeo Drive on April 22, 2020 in Beverly Hills. (Getty Images)

There were 1,081 new COVID-19 cases in the past 24 hours and 68 deaths, L.A. County Public Health Director Dr. Barbara Ferrer reported.

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It brings the county’s death toll to 797, and its total number of coronavirus cases to 17,508.

Ferrer reported that between April 12 and April 23, there were an average of 44 deaths per day.

“COVID-19 has now become the leading cause of death across the county,” Ferrer said.

For perspective, Ferrer said that on average, 31 people a day die of coronary heart disease in L.A. County, five people die of influenza during flu season, and eight people die of emphysema and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

“Across the county, the number of people in the last two months who have died of COVID-19 is greater than the number of people that died of influenza over the past eight-month flu season, and this is true of the United States as well,” Ferrer said.

Of the 68 new deaths, 51 of the victims were over the age 65. Eleven were between 41 and 65, and three were between the ages of 18 and 40. Of those three, two had underlying health conditions.

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Currently, 1,854 people are hospitalized with coronavirus in L.A. County. 29 percent of those are in ICU beds and 19 percent are on ventilators.

The number of cases at nursing homes continues to spike.

There are 3,343 coronavirus cases at 286 institutional settings, which are defined as nursing homes, assisted living facilities, jails, prisons, homeless shelters, treatment centers and supporting living facilities.

There are 26 L.A. County nursing homes which are reporting at least 20 cases among residents.

310 residents in institutional settings have died of coronavirus, the majority of which resided in nursing homes. That accounts for 39 percent of all coronavirus deaths in the county.

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Meanwhile, over 98,000 people in L.A. County have been tested for coronavirus, with 14 percent being positive for the disease.