The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health announced 69 more coronavirus-related fatalities on Friday. That’s much higher than the average number of daily COVID-related deaths reported last week, which was about 38. The new deaths increased the countywide death toll related to the pandemic to 4,624.
County health officials have been warning about an anticipated increase in deaths, following a sharp increase in hospitalizations that began in mid July, roughly two weeks after the Fourth of July weekend. Officials are blaming the rise in fatalities on numerous public gatherings that weekend, despite health restrictions banning them.
“As we are seeing increases these past few days in the numbers of people dying from COVID-19, the reality of the devastation cannot be ignored,” L.A. County public health director Barbara Ferrer said in a statement. “Nor can we ignore the reality that there are actions each person can take to prevent these tragic outcomes.”
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Officials confirmed another 2,651 new coronavirus cases on Friday. The countywide total of cases from throughout the pandemic rose to 188,541.
County health officials noted that daily death figures reported over the past week have been unusually high — including a one-day record high of 91 fatalities on Wednesday. Ferrer called it a “higher death count than we’ve ever seen.”
California also announced a record number of coronavirus fatalities on Wednesday. The new high was 197. That’s a 20 percent jump from the previous high of 159, recorded last Friday.
State and local officials have said the numbers were significantly lower last weekend, Monday and Tuesday because of delays caused by a new federal reporting process. As a result, Wednesday’s number is inflated because of those daily test results. But Ferrer said earlier this week that numbers would be up even without the backlog boost.
The state on Friday reported its first confirmed death of a teen from coronavirus.
Hospital admissions have been leveling off over the past week, but the number of people hospitalized still remains high, with 2,002 confirmed patients as of Friday. That number topped 2,200 for several days earlier this month, the highest level of the pandemic.
City News Service contributed to this report.