LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) — Los Angeles County reported an additional 45 coronavirus-related deaths and 1,500 new confirmed cases on Thursday.
As crowds continued to gather for the ninth day in a row to protest police brutality and the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis, county health officials again encouraged everyone to take precautions to avoid infecting others.
Throughout the week, officials have urged anyone taking part in protests to wear face coverings and try to maintain social distancing. Public health director Dr. Barbara Ferrer also asked those who think they may have been exposed to COVID-19 to remember to self quarantine.
“If you think you may have been exposed to COVID-19 while out and in large crowds, because you were in close contact for at least 15 minutes with people who were not wearing face coverings, please remember that the virus has a long incubation period and it will be important to remain away from others as much as possible for 14 days,” Ferrer said in statement. “Testing negative for COVID-19 right after you’ve been exposed does not mean you can’t become infected later during the incubation period, so please stay away from others for 14 days after possible exposure.
“Should you develop symptoms within 14 days of exposure, please contact your healthcare provider to connect to care and testing,” she said.
As of Thursday, the virus-related countywide death toll sits at 2,532, and the total number of cases has reached 59,692.
According to officials, 93 percent of those who have died from coronavirus in L.A. County has underlying health conditions. This percentage has remained relatively the same for weeks.
For 2,341 of the fatalities, information on ethnicity was also available. According to the data, 41 percent were Latinx, 28 percent were white, 18 percent were Asian, 12 percent were black and one percent were Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander.
Also as of Thursday, 1,457 people have been hospitalized for the virus, with 30 percent at some point occupying intensive care units. Since the pandemic began, 11 percent of positive cases have resulted in hospitalization.
The county has acknowledged that, in addition to continued protests, the reopening of businesses such as dine-in restaurants and personal care businesses may also contribute to a rising number of cases in the coming weeks.
At this time, higher-risk businesses, such as bars and wineries that do not serve meals, are required to remain closed.
On Wednesday, the L.A. City Council voted to make it easier for fitness businesses to apply for permits to teach exercise classes and activities in public spaces during the pandemic. Gyms have been closed since March 15.
Councilman Mike Bonin, who wrote the motion, said it could be a way to help residents stay healthy, since many have been mostly staying home for the nearly three months.
Bonin said people can apply for permits to conduct outdoor exercise at public parks, but the current process is “complicated,” and it should be made easier.
(© Copyright 2020 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. City News Service contributed to this report.)