UPDATE: L.A. County reports nearly 2,500 COVID-19 cases; two deaths in SCV

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Los Angeles County Department of Public Health officials announced 2,496 additional COVID-19 cases in the past 24 hours Wednesday, bringing the total countywide to 123,004. 

In the Santa Clarita Valley, two additional deaths were reported Wednesday by Public Health, bringing the total to 36 locally. 

In addition, 43 new COVID-19 cases were reported in the past 24 hours in the SCV, with 33 in the city of Santa Clarita, five in Castaic, two in Acton, and one each in Agua Dulce, Stevenson Ranch and Valencia. This brings the total in the SCV to at least 3,465. 

“We are at a very critical juncture in our pandemic,” Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer said during a county news conference. “We’re entering a phase in which we’re seeing community spread and hospitalizations like we saw in late April, and what we hoped would be the height of infection here in L.A. County. But as you’ve noted this week with us, our cases are rising, the rate of infection is increasing and the number of hospitalizations are up. And today, we’re even seeing a small increase in the number of deaths, although this is a data point that usually lags behind all others.” 

Public Health also reported 65 new deaths countywide related to COVID-19, bringing the total to 3,642.

Of those who died in the past 24 hours countywide: 34 were over the age of 65, 33 of whom had underlying health conditions; 23 were between the ages of 41-65, 13 of whom had underlying health conditions; and five were between the ages of 18-40, four of whom had underlying health conditions. The remaining deaths were reported by the city of Long Beach, which has its own Public Health department. 

“Ninety-three percent of the people who have died from COVID-19 did have underlying health conditions, but a full 7% of the people who passed away did not,” Ferrer said. “And when the numbers get as big as they are today, that 7% represents dozens and dozens of people who may have thought that they were at no risk for having serious illness and even dying for COVID-19, but unfortunately this virus can affect many, many different people.”

Testing results are available for more than 1.2 million individuals, with 9% of all tested returning positive, while the daily positivity rate, which is composed of a seven-day rolling average, has risen to 10.4%, per Public Health.

Public Health has also continued to see an increase in hospitalizations countywide, with 2,004 COVID-19 patients hospitalized as of Wednesday, 26% of whom were in the ICU and 17% on ventilators. This remains substantially higher than the 1,350 to 1,450 daily hospitalizations seen a few weeks ago.

Public Health officials said Monday that almost 50% of new cases are occurring among younger people, with the most significant increase in the percentage of cases among residents between the ages of 18-40.

“Modeling suggests that one in 140 Los Angeles County residents are currently infected with COVID-19 and infectious to others,” said county Supervisor Hilda L. Solis of the 1st District. “Only two weeks ago, it was one in 400 Los Angeles County residents who were infected. I want to be very clear about this, COVID-19 affects everyone. It’s not limited to people over 65 or those who have medical conditions. Instead, we continue to learn about young people having severe health impacts from COVID-19. Our youth are our future.” 

Ferrer agreed and continues to urge county residents to avoid the three C’s: crowds, confined spaces and close contact. 

Over the Fourth of July holiday weekend, Public Health inspectors visited 1,101 restaurants from July 3-5 and found that 99% were complying with the order to only provide outdoor dining, takeout or delivery and were wearing face coverings, while 98% were complying with physical distancing, Ferrer said. 

California saw one of its largest one-day hikes with 11,694 new COVID-19 cases Tuesday, a figure that included a large “backlog of reported numbers that we’re still working through with L.A. County,” Gov. Gavin Newsom said Wednesday. The state has seen an increase of 44% in hospitalizations and 34% in patients in ICUs over the past 14 days. Drivers of these recent admissions include increased mixing outside of households, not enough people wearing face masks and physically distancing, and outbreaks at prisons, jails and workplaces. 

The state, which added three northern counties to its coronavirus watch list, is preparing for a surge by increasing its staff, hospital space and inventory, the governor added. The state has 232 million procedure masks and 46 million N-95 masks in its inventory and will add 190 federal health care workers to assist those currently on the front lines.

The latest figures from Henry Mayo Newhall Hospital released Wednesday reported that 3,936 patients had been tested — many of whom have been tested more than once — with 415 tests returning positive, 3,671 negative and 407 still pending, said Patrick Moody, a spokesman for the hospital. Eleven people remained in the hospital, a decrease of eight from the previous week, while 132 had since recovered and been discharged, Moody added.

The number of SCV cases, including all area health care providers’ daily figures and those at Pitchess Detention Center, broken down into region, were as follows as of Wednesday:

City of Santa Clarita: 1,419
Unincorporated – Acton: 31
Unincorporated – Agua Dulce: 16
Unincorporated – Bouquet Canyon: 1
Unincorporated – Canyon Country: 51
Unincorporated – Castaic: 1,810 (majority of Castaic cases come from Pitchess Detention Center, exact number unavailable)
Unincorporated – Lake Hughes: 1
Unincorporated – Newhall: 3
Unincorporated – Placerita Canyon: 0
Unincorporated – San Francisquito Canyon/Bouquet Canyon: 0
Unincorporated – Sand Canyon: 1
Unincorporated – Saugus: 6
Unincorporated – Saugus/Canyon Country: 0
Unincorporated – Stevenson Ranch: 77
Unincorporated – Val Verde: 34
Unincorporated – Valencia: 15

To view all coronavirus-related stories, visit signalscv.com/category/news/coronavirus.

Signal Staff Writer Tammy Murga contributed to this report.

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