LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) – The number of coronavirus cases in Los Angeles County Tuesday neared the 28,000-mark as officials gear up to announce a reopening plan later this week.
There were 1,638 new coronavirus cases and 58 deaths reported in L.A. County Tuesday, bringing the total number of cases to 27,815 and the death toll to 1,313.
The high number of cases was due to both an increase in testing and a lag in reporting from commercial laboratories.
However, L.A. County saw the number of hospitalizations decrease for the fourth straight, showing signs that the curve is flattening.
“We will continue to track this information in hopes that we’re starting to see a leveling off or slight downward trend on our hospitalization data,” L.A. County Public Health Director Dr. Barbara Ferrer said.
There were 1,779 people hospitalized with COVID-19 in L.A. County, with 30 percent of those in ICU beds and 19 percent on ventilators.
647 residents of institutional settings have died of coronavirus so far, the majority of which lived in nursing homes. That accounts for 49 percent of all coronavirus deaths.
“This is an alarming rate and we all need to work hard to make sure that we’re doing everything possible so that our most vulnerable residents are as safe as they can be in these congregate living settings,” Ferrer said.
Ferrer also reported that a sixth inmate has died of coronavirus at Terminal Island, a federal low-security prison in San Pedro. As of last week, more than 600 inmates at Terminal Island have tested positive, compromising 57 percent of the total inmate population there.
On Monday, California Gov. Gavin Newsom announced that the state will begin reopening specific businesses, such as retail stores, on Friday. L.A. County officials reported that they will announce their own reopening plans later this week.
Ferrer Tuesday cautioned that the reopening process will be slow.
“We’re all looking forward to businesses opening and getting back to work, and we all know that we’re gonna be on a slow journey together so that we can continue to save lives and prevent overwhelming our healthcare system,” she said.
Ferrer also noted that as communities reopen, there could be a spike in cases, again putting pressure on hospitals.
“More people will be out and about and we’ll see more cases,” Ferrer said. “What we have to make sure is that we have enough capacity in our hospitals to be able to treat a small increase in the number of people who may show up needing hospital care.”