LOS ANGELES (CN) — Los Angeles County is seeing 1,000 new cases of the novel coronavirus daily and over a third of all Covid-related deaths in the county have been from places like nursing homes and assisted-living facilities, health officials reported Friday.
Outbreaks at communal living facilities — which have killed over 200 residents so far, accounting for over 40% of all county deaths — prompted LA County public health officials to ask for help from the California National Guard earlier this week. LA County Public Health Director Dr. Barbara Ferrer said National Guard assistance was dispatched to four locations to help with staff shortages.
Lt. Col. Jonathan Shiroma of the National Guard told the Southern California News Group that the four eight-person teams were sent to nursing homes in the cities of Pasadena, Gardena and Los Angeles.
Health officials announced a new mandate requiring residents and staff at facilities like nursing homes to be tested for the novel coronavirus even if they are asymptomatic or otherwise healthy. Both staff and residents will regularly have their temperature checked and will have to wear surgical masks and avoid communal dining.
“With all of the recent literature and experience here in LA County, it’s become really clear that asymptomatic people are in fact both infected with the virus and capable of shedding the virus,” said Ferrer. “They’re capable of infecting others.”
The mandate shows health officials are “acknowledging this new reality” said Ferrer, as just a few weeks ago only people with flu-like symptoms were being tested and others were being quarantined if they were likely exposed to someone infected with Covid-19 virus.
LA County saw 52 new deaths and 1,035 new infections since Thursday. The county death toll stands at 848, and so far 18,517 residents have been infected with the virus according to Friday’s update.
County health officials expect the trend of 1,000 or more new cases daily will continue as more testing has become available.
The number of cases in California approached 41,000 on Friday; nearly half of the state's cases have been in LA County.
Like many other health officials across the country, Ferrer addressed comments by President Donald Trump on Thursday when he claimed “disinfectant” could be injected into a person’s body to fight the coronavirus.
“Don’t inject or ingest or even put on your body any disinfectants for cleaning purposes,” Ferrer said. “It’s extremely dangerous. No scientific evidence that they would either be safe or help prevent you from becoming infected. They’re not a therapeutic medicine.”
Trump said Friday he was being “sarcastic” despite being surrounded by health experts when he made those claims.
Also Friday, LA County saw a lawsuit by nine county jail inmates and two advocacy groups over the lack of health care at jails. One of the plaintiffs says she reported her flu-like symptoms to jail staff at the Century Regional Detention Facility but was only been given cold medicine and has not been tested for coronavirus.
In a statement, attorney Dan Stormer of Hadsell Stormer Renick & Dai said people will die unless the LA County Sheriff’s Department dramatically reduces the population in its jails and follows U.S. Centers for Disease and Control coronavirus guidelines.
“There are life threatening risks to all incarcerated people and, most particularly, to the high percentage of medically vulnerable prisoners,” Stormer said. “These are the prisoners who are most likely to become severely ill or to die should they become infected. We are unapologetic in our fight to save the lives of our clients, as well as staff at these facilities and their communities.”
In his daily California briefing, Governor Gavin Newsom announced a meal delivery program with an aim toward helping California’s 1.2 million seniors who live alone and sparking economic activity in the ravaged food service sector.